6 March 2010

Tanzania: Tanzanite in Abundance

Arusha — Tanzanite One General Manager, Nick Hughes has dismissed speculations that the precious blue minerals of Mererani were about to disappear saying a very small fraction of the mining hills was being mined at the moment.

His geologists also believe there are more unexplored deposits of the rare blue gemstones deposits than the amount that is currently being produced in the Mererani Hills of Simanjiro District, Manyara region.

"We are at the moment sinking a new mining shaft in addition to the four shafts currently in operation," stated Mr Nick Hughes the General Manager for Tanzanite-One, the giant mining company operating in the Northern Zone.

"Most miners are not exploring for the future, they are simply mining for the present. Our company employs geologists and other trained experts specifically for studying the mining trend, that is why we are now drilling a new quarry which is the exploration shaft," added Mr Hughes.

He however admitted that eventually the deposits will diminish though not anytime soon.

Tanzanite mining area has expanded from the initial 8 sq km to the current 20 sq km. divided into four blocks A, B, C and D. The hills could reach 50 sq km.

Only Tanzanite One's Block C has been explored by geologist. The mineral reserves detected in there are estimated to be 2.2 million tons but ongoing studies are likely to discover even more deposits.

"While it is not possible to find Tanzanite elsewhere in Tanzania, the geological composition at Mererani indicates abundant reserve of the rare blue gemstones it is just a matter of exploring more." He said.

That is why his company has just started to excavate a new quarry at their Block 'C' plot. The new mining shaft

Christened 'Kossack' is named after a dog, the giant

hound which has been a 'faithful guard' at the company's

|base for close to ten years now.

Tanzanite, discovered at Mererani in 1962 are only found and mined in Tanzania. According to Hughes however there is no possibility of finding the blue gemstones elsewhere in the country.

Between 2007 and 2009 a number of small scale miners were calling it quits and started leaving the area claiming the minerals were disappearing.

"The speculations that Tanzanite minerals are about to disappear are unfounded, with proper exploration miners will be in business for many years to come," stated Mr Hughes.

Tanzanite One Ltd which is the largest mining firm in Mererani doubling as exporter, also reported recently that gemstone production exceeded its targets and it made strong progress moving back towards profitability in the year.

The company, which holds the license to the largest of four mining blocks in the world's only tanzanite-producing area near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, produced 1.91 million carats and recorded sales of US $12.2 million in 2009.

"A single carat weighs five grams making the total mineral harvest of last year to be 9.5 tons," explained Mr Hughes.

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