11 August 2012

Tanzania: Uranium Project Licence Shelved Till Tax Bill Paid

Dodoma — A SPECIAL mining licence to allow Russian firm, Uranium One start mining at Mkuju River in the Selous Game Reserve buffer zone, will not be issued until Australian Mantra Resources pay over 180 million US dollars (approx. 292.12bn/-) in taxes, the Parliament was told.

Mantra Resources sold majority of its shares to Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) of Russia for 980 million US dollars (approx. 1.54trn/-) last year, according to Kigoma North lawmaker, Zitto Kabwe.

Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, made the remarks while responding to a main question from Mkoani MP, Ali Khamis Seif (CUF), who wanted to know the government's benefit from the Mkuju uranium mining project.

Prof Muhongo said his ministry's experts were meeting with Uranium One representatives and State Mining Corporation (Stamico) to discuss a number of issues, including the project's shares, that would also involve the local communities in the mining area.

"I can assure you that the licence has not been issued and we are very careful with the current negotiations," said Prof Muhongo. The minister pointed out that his team was shifting from the 'business as usual' practice to ensure that the nation and communities benefit from mining.

"We want to make sure the government gets its fair share of revenue including dividend. Local communities should not be forced to rely on generosity of mining companies. They have to benefit directly," he said.

Earlier, Mr Kabwe sought the Speaker's guidance to alert the minister that the Tanzania Revenue Authority was still pressing Mantra Resources to pay 20 per cent taxes after selling its majority stake to ARMZ last year.

"Let us avoid the mistakes we made that resulted in huge losses in the gold mining projects," the fiery lawmaker who is also Deputy Leader of the official opposition in parliament said. Prof Muhongo said his ministry was in contact with its Malawian and Namibian counterparts who have ongoing uranium mining projects.

"Malawi has the only known uranium mining project in the region and as such, we are learning from their experience," the minister noted.

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