Mining Crisis Threatens the People of ROWAN
May 2022 (SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST UPDATES)
Our region is being directly threatened by a private mining company called Ionic Rare Earths, locally called Rwenzori Rare looking to extract minerals from the soil under ROWAN. This mining project is called, “The Makuutu Project.” From recent reports from Ionic:
“Makuutu is owned 100% by Ugandan registered Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited (RRM) which at the time was owned 85% by South African registered Rare Earth Elements Africa Proprietary Limited (REEA). IonicRE has entered into a binding option agreement with both companies that enables it to acquire up to a 60% direct interest in RRM, and thereby up to a 60% indirect interest in Makuutu. It was announced on Ionic’s website in April that:
Ionic Rare Earths signs milestone non-binding MOU with global rare earth giant Chinalco
*Chinalco is the world’s largest rare earth miner and separator by market capitalization *The parties to cooperate to accelerate mine development and production of the Makuutu Rare Earth Project including potential off take agreements and Project funding
*Attracting Chinalco is a significant endorsement of the Makuutu Project as a globally strategic long-life supply of critical and heavy rare earths… See more
Kelsey traveled to Uganda to meet with the Rwenzori Rare Metals manager and to partner with other local leaders, churches, and NGOs on the ground to explore the best way forward for our community.
Our goal? We sought to collaborate and find a way to preserve the dignity of the thousands (later learned that it is millions) of people who would be displaced by this mining endeavor.
Listen to Kelsey break down more details here: (If you’re familiar with ROWAN, start the video at about 11 minutes 38 seconds. The first 11 minutes contain the origin story of ROWAN, while the details of the crisis start at about 13 minutes 20 seconds.)
After roughly 70 hours of travel and a week packed with meetings, ROWAN Co-founder Kelsey Hargadine is back in the States with lots to share.
Thanks to many fruitful conversations with the mining company, other local leaders, churches, powerful political figures, and NGOs on the ground, there’s simply too much to put in an email.
For the first time ever, we held a Zoom meeting where Kelsey shared inside details of her trip, takeaways from the meetings, a breakdown of what the mining company plans to do, and powerful testimonies of God’s handiwork in the region.
The mining crisis that threatens our region is on the horizon, and we’re getting a head start by collaborating with lawyers who are advocating for the most dignified treatment of our orphans and widows.
*photo from Ionic website
Adversity on the Horizon
Among other updates shared in the zoom video, we found that the mining company will likely not directly affect our region immediately, although it has already begun affecting people’s lives as they begin to move away out of fear, constant anxiety and uncertainty of one’s future.
As scary as it feels, we know that these widows and orphans need our steadfast support now more than ever.
If you found out that your home might be torn down in 10 years, would you move out now? Of course not!
In the same way, we’re using this time to plan and prepare for the next chapter of ROWAN serving the vulnerable citizens of Uganda while advocating for the rights and proper treatment of the widows and orphans there, now.
Sometimes, an obstacle looms so large in your life that it’s hard to see through or around it.
Have you ever been there? You’re staring up at your own personal Goliath, speechless, prayerless, and breathless. If you feel that way, we invite you to fall back on these 3 simple prayer requests:
ROWAN is paying for the best local lawyers to represent 70,000 people who will be displaced from mining. Pray for peace in their hearts that they are cared for and valued.
Please pray for Pastor Paul and his family, who face a lot of pressure, threats, and intimidation as they stand in the gap and advocate for our widows and orphans. Pray also that ROWAN as an organization would be protected so that we can continue to do God’s work in this region.
Join us in knocking down God’s door as we pray for provision. This is both in terms of finances as well as the right people to lead ROWAN into this season of advocacy.
A note from Co-Founder
Hello family of ROWAN!
As you have stood by us during this unforeseen mining crisis that has entered our region, I wanted to give you a real time update on what ROWAN is doing to actively protect and fight for the rights not only our beneficiaries, but over 2 MILLION affected by this project.
For the past month, we as ROWAN, along with the support and guidance of the local lawyers out of Kampala have guided negotiations between the mining company and the people.
What are we negotiating?
As the mining company uses their exploratory license to find minerals in our region, their next goal would be to get a signed MOU from individual land owners to obtain a mining license. Initially this MOU was found to be extremely shallow, with zero interest in the peoples’ rights and need for compensation. The mining company had a plan to divide and conquer in order to obtain such signatures.
Thankfully, through the collaborative efforts of our ROWAN staff and lawyer team, we educated the community to stand together as one. The community is now working in unity across 3 Districts!
Our lawyers are actively visiting the affected communities and educating people on their rights. They are guiding our steps and standing in the gap between the government, mining company, and the PAPs (Project Affected Persons.)
It is a long road ahead, but we are hopeful in God’s protection and provision of His children.
When you stand with ROWAN, you are not only supporting the orphans and widows in our program, but you are supporting our advocacy efforts. It is no surprise to our God that we are located at the heart of this crisis, and we have unshakeable faith that God will show us the opportunity to impact millions for His Kingdom! What an honor.
The most important thing right now is to intercede for the ministry and those on the front lines of this effort.
Watch this Crucial video (about 7 minutes) to meet our lawyers and real time updates from Uganda.
A note from Co-Founder
What is going on with the mining process? Good News to Report: The Attorney General has enforced a law that before a mining license can be issued to the mining company, they MUST show a Resettlement Action Plan (which they have yet to reveal), AND fully compensate every household affected by the mining prior to obtaining the license!
This has caused a huge standstill and frustration for the mining company, who assumed they could move forward without those actions in place. Now, we wait and see what the mining company presents in their resettlement plan Draft.
What have the Christmas funds supported this year?
The funds have secured our legal team for 2023, as well as supported large meetings with key stakeholders and leaders in the government to ensure the rights of the people are prioritized.
Our legal team is being threatened. Our founder, Pastor Paul, is being threatened. But every time I speak with them, they are not shaken. They are hopeful in God’s protection and see His miracles every day. If you would like to join our Intercessory Prayer Network, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
What’s the Biggest Prayer Request?
We pray we can see every woman and child sponsored to support them in this time of trial. We continue to pursue our mission and vision to see that
Every widow a leader and Every orphan a beloved child.
October 2023 UPDATE
As of today, Ionic Rare Earth has received approval of the Surface Rights agreement with the Uganda Government. This agreement must be understood and signed by the land owner. This document, once signed, allows the mining company to have access to the land for mining purposes. The owner has no future rights of that land. All ownership is relinquished once it is signed. What are they Actually agreeing to?
For their land to look like this (currently)
to this (photo taken from nearby mining landscape):
Again, from this:
To this (actual photo of Ionic’s website)
ROWAN is working with our legal team to execute a comprehensive empowerment plan that will educate all the people on their land rights, what all is included in the Surface Rights Agreement, and empower them to make their best decisions as their representatives. This will include face to face weekly meetings from now through December, radio talk shows, involving high level leaders in government with the people, and ensuring every person knows their rights as land owners.
ROWAN is purposefully not getting loud and active outside Uganda, because we know and believe that the strongest voice in this fight is the voice of the people. We give everything we can to empower them to speak up for their lives, land and freedom.
Will it be easy? Absolutely not.
Do we know the outcome will be best for our people? No we don’t.
Will we have to be displaced and lose all of our land? We don’t know.
But what we DO know, is that God is with us. And He is going to protect His people. And we as an organization Dare to Hope that our God is able. Standing with ROWAN is standing with every widow, no matter what, until the end.
What do we need? Join our prayer team. Email email@example.com and ask to be added to prayer team. Weekly emails sent out on how to best pray for this threat.