1 September 2014

Tanzania: Mining Investors On Call to Boost Environment Fund

Mwanza — THE government is finalising arrangements with companies that have invested in mining activities in the country on the amount of funds or bonds each will have to contribute to the ambitious environmental rehabilitation bond.

Environmental rehabilitation was top on the agenda following the experience on the closure of the Buhemba Gold Mine in Mara Region in 2006.

This was after it was abandoned due to the unanticipated decline in the grade of the ore body, costing the government more than 3bn/- to rehabilitate the environment.

Another experience was the closure of Buckreef Gold Mine in Geita Region in 1990 that was caused by lack of economic investment and technical expertise at the time.

The Assistant Commissioner for Mines Inspectorate and Chief Inspector of Mines in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Mr Ally Samaje, told the 'Daily News' at the weekend here that serious discussions on the establishment of the bonds were now in top gear.

"We are still discussing the kind of bonds each among the nine investors has to commit as well as the costs involved. We need to make sure no investor leaves behind insecure grounds as he closes business as it happened before," he said.

However, the computation methods of environmental rehabilitation bonds commonly applied globally are case-by-case costing, predetermined unit costs and licensee supplies determined costing.

Commenting on the future plans for the pits in case of closure of existing mines, Mr Samaje said the possibility is for the pits to be used for training purposes.

He noted the pits could be utilised by such organs as mining training institutes or higher learning institutions for a number of training programmes or any other meaningful education programme pertaining to the development of the mining sector.

The same sentiment was also aired by an expert with the Buzwagi Gold Mine in Kahama District, Mr Samuel Eshun, who once told the 'Daily News' that mining companies can provide supportive mechanisms on how to leave a secure environment when it requires for the closure of the cite.

A Ghanaian expert, Mr Eshun, said much as gold mining at Buzwagi was going on smoothly, he did not advise the refilling of the pits in case of future stoppage of activities.

"Refilling these pits is economically disastrous than leaving them open for future tangible uses -- like filling them with water for irrigation farming, for instance," he quipped.

In the proposed rehabilitation bond system, all mining firms are required to deposit cash depending on the size of the operations as a bond to the would-be-established state-run-fund.

To start with, the state initially anticipates hoarding nearly 270 million US dollars from eight mining companies as a bond for rehabilitation of the mining landscapes after their closure.

The system means that the bonds would be used to rehabilitate the area in case a mining firm leaves without doing so. Energy and Minerals Minister Professor Sospeter Muhongo said last year that the new environmental rehabilitation bond system was anticipated to take off this financial year.

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