Mwanza — The government has slapped Acacia's North Mara with a Sh5.6 billion fine for leaking contaminated water into residential areas and rivers.
The mining firm has also been given a three-week ultimatum to correct some of the weaknesses, which were identified in its sewage infrastructure.
According to an investigation carried out by the National Environmental Management Council (Nemc) and the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Acacia leaked chemical components into the residential areas and water sources, putting people's health and lives at risk.
The Nemc's Tarime region director, Dr Samuel Gwamaka, made the revelation during an official tour of Acacia North Mara of the minister of State in the Vice President's Office for Union Affairs and Environment, Mr January Makamba and the Minerals minister, Mr Dotto Biteko. The government officials went to inspect the Acacia's sewage system.
The two ministers emphasised that it was not the government's motive to punish the firm for the leakage, but rather to ensure the safety of the people and environment.
"The government wants to get a share of the profits you make from mining gold, but we are obliged to protect people's health and lives as well as our environment," said Mr Makamba.
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He added: "We have noted the mining process itself has no problem, so we won't revoke your licence or stop mining activities."
For his part, Mr Biteko congratulated Nemc and the UDSM experts on carrying out the investigation, thus setting a stage for the government to take action.
"We are grateful for Nemc and UDSM experts for carrying out a helpful investigation," he said.
Acacia Mining, which had a rough time with the government recently, is a gold mining business operating in Tanzania, with exploration properties in Kenya, Burkina Faso and Mali.