AfricaPress-Tanzania: PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has exposed new tactics of smuggling Tanzanite at the rich Mirereni mines in Simanjiro District, Manyara region, demanding security reinforcement to curb the malpractice.
In her speech at the State House in Dar es Salaam, where she administered swearing in of seven permanent secretaries, nine deputy permanent secretaries of different ministries and three heads of public entities, President Samia said smugglers have now resorted to dig underground channels through which they have been sneaking Tanzanite out of the 24.5-kilometre perimeter wall surrounding the Mirerani Mines.
“We have TPDF (Tanzania People’s Defence Forces) soldiers protecting the mineral site yet Tanzanite finds its way out of the fortified place,” she wondered.
Ms Samia expressed her dismay over the trend, calling on the Ministry of Minerals to further reinforce security despite a successful installation of 24-hour surveillance CCTV cameras on the perimeter wall.
The President also took issue with mineral smuggling at Block C, which is partly owned by the State mining firm (STAMICO).
“Let it be known that the government had since stopped mineral exploration at the site as it has been designated for other purposes,” she said.
The President further urged the Ministry of Minerals to be extra vigilant in protecting minerals resources.
Similarly, the President Samia directed the mineral Ministry to review the multibillion Kabanga project with a view of starting exploring Nickel in the north western part of the country.
“Let’s start extracting the minerals, it makes no use of boasting of being a mineral-rich country when Nickel is yet to be explored… let’s fast track the negotiations with the company,” she directed.
The President also underscored the importance of striking the right balance between mining and conservation. Her assertion comes at a time when the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) halted Helium exploration in some of the protected areas it manages.
“The rich chemical element is found in some of the protected areas in the country, it’s high time we look into the opportunity cost, much as the wild animals don’t feed on Helium,” the President joked.
She also challenged the Ministry of Minerals to expeditiously start ironing out some contentious issues in the contract between Barrick and the government.
The President urged the minerals Ministry to stop flexing its muscles and approach the matter soberly.
“The main challenge arises from tax levies, we need to settle the matter, while knowing we need the investors,” challenged the President.
She further challenged the Minerals Ministry to refer the matter to the Finance and Planning docket, should they fail in the course.
Twiga Minerals Corporation, which is a joint venture between Barrick and the government of Tanzania, oversees the management of Barrick’s assets in the country as well as the implementation of the economic benefit-sharing agreement.
It was formed when Barrick took over the operations of the former Acacia Mining in September 2019, and subsequently entered into a framework agreement with the government.