24 March 2014

Tanzania: New Mineral Centres Planned to Check Smuggling

THE government plans to establish new mineral offices and centres across the country to extend mineral audit operations and contain smuggling of mineral resources outside the country.

Commissioner for Minerals in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Eng. Paul Masanja, told the 'Daily News' that the establishment of new six resident and zonal mining offices next financial year also aims at taking services closer to the people and tap more resources from mines and gemstones.

He said as the country struggles to find out best technologies to curb smuggling of minerals like gold and tanzanite, current measures and others in the pipeline indicate that Tanzania will be able to largely contain the problem within the coming three years.

"We are moving slowly but surely in making sure we get hold of what we are supposed to tap from our precious mineral resources.

During the next financial year, we will open new two zonal offices and four resident offices for that course," he said.

Apart from the existing eight Zones, he mentioned the two new zones -- one in Musoma to cater for Mara and Simiyu regions and another in Songea, serving Ruvuma and Njombe regions.

Four new resident offices will be opened in Moshi, Bariadi, Nachingwea and Njombe on top of the already operating 13, bringing the total to 17 resident offices.

According to Eng. Masanja, who before his current position was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency (TMAA), smuggling of minerals is still a headache for the agency.

With records showing only 20 per cent of 20 tonnes of gold produced by small-scale miners is collected as revenue, 18 tonnes of gold, equivalent to 80 per cent, disappear unnoticed with India being mentioned as the leading smuggler, he reported.

However, to contain the situation, he said, the government has resolved to make sure all exports of minerals and gemstones are not allowed to get out of the country without certificates of origin, although that idea is not well conceived yet among some foreign dealers.

Eng. Masanja said efforts are going on for dealers in the US, Kenya, Thailand and India to abide by Tanzania's certificate concept although he didn't go into more details why the dealers were actually against the arrangement.

For many large-scale miners, however, the situation was not that bad with Eng. Masanja saying they are increasingly paying all statutory revenue and royalty according to the laws.

For the last 14 years, Tanzania has been processing manual certificates of origin to many of its exports, but has now announced to switch over to the Electronic Certificate of Origin (e-CO).

The system, which was launched last month in Dar es Salaam, will be running concurrently with the present manual one until all exporters got used to it.

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