SMALL scale mining has been a key rural economic activity in Tanzania for many years but lack of capital and poor technology have remained among the stumbling blocks for the sector's growth thus adversely affecting its contribution to development and poverty alleviation.
However, the setbacks of capital deficient for the artisanal miners have instead become an opportunity for large investors to reap heavily and impact positively to government revenues. Statistics show that small scale mining employs over 500,000 people, but which could be increased substantially if conducive environment aimed at empowering artisanal miners are put in place.
Recognizing the contribution the government has allocated nearly 9bn/- to support small-scale miners in the country in order to boost the economy and reducing unemployment. Similarly, last week the government and mining companies agreed to multi stakeholder partnership approach in order to help formalise the artisanal mining sector.
The government is firm to supporting small -scale miners for them to use modern equipment, he said noting providing them with modern equipment will bring performance efficiency when executing their duties in order to boost their income, said the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo recently.
It is evident that small scale miners have been earning 259bn/- annually, through their traditional mining methods and government has been receiving from them only 5bn/- and this is due to tax evasion. He said that the government will make sure that they are supported with modern tools and it will be a good chance to collect more tax without impediments.
Muhongo also said that in order for the country to develop economically its people must have knowledge, technology and innovation. The ABG's Senior Director for Community Relations and Environment, Kevin D'Souza, said there has been a general agreement by large scale mining companies to support the formalization of a regulated artisanal mining sector in the country.
The commitment was made at a pioneering consultative meeting chaired by the Deputy Minister for Minerals, Mr Steven Masele that brought together various companies from the mining industry, government ministries and agencies and civil society organisations.
He said the question was not whether support should be considered but, rather, how it could be done in a sustainable manner and within the laws of the country. AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) and African Barrick Gold (ABG), as key members of the Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy, recently agreed with government and other stakeholders including the World Bank and artisanal mining groups to explore approaches to creating a sustainable and regulated artisanal and small-scale mining sector in the country. The AngloGold Ashanti Geita Gold Mine Managing Director, Mr Gary Davis, said in order for large scale mining and the artisanal and small scale mining sectors to co-exist, it is essential that the formalisation occurs in a sustainable manner. "Geita Gold Mine remains committed to work with all stakeholders to achieve these goals and have a positive impact on the communities in which we work and live", he said. The commitment comes at a time when the government has made significant efforts in collaboration with the World Bank to map out an approach to support the artisanal and small scale mining sector that attracts approximately one million people in Tanzania. The consultative meeting resolved to establish a steering committee that would oversee the development and implementation of two pilot projects using a multistakeholder partnership approach. Furthermore, the government said recently that it was preparing Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) data base aimed at expanding revenue collection among small scale miners, the exercise to be completed in this month. Mr Masele said the process will help the government to provide small scale miners with technical and financial support. The government has in place a framework on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the government to engage with the private sector to achieve optimal delivery of socioeconomic goods and services. The PPP approach provide an opportunity to develop creative approaches to engage stakeholders, coordinate activities, and the leverage resources and expertise to achieve shared objectives in the mining sector. The major challenge was the conflict between the Large Scale Miners and Artisanal and Small Scale Miners as they tend to compete over the same resources, saying the conflicts have become a major operational concern for LSM. In a nutshell, empowerment of small scale miners will be an important mechanism for generating government revenues through various taxes as well as supporting poverty alleviation efforts.