Dar es Salaam — The government yesterday promised a new chapter in relationship with the private sector as it continues to push for the win-win situation.
The pledge was made during start of a three-day international minerals and mining investment conference which brought together representatives of 49 companies from 24 countries.
Noting that over 90 percent of the mining sector was being run by the private sector, Minerals Minister Doto Biteko said the government would do whatever it takes to create an enabling business environment for the investors.
He said the relationship between the government and the private sector will remain to be friendly, with a view to taking the mining sector to the next level.
"We need to be fair. For unscrupulous ones, we need to pick and punish them instead of punishing even those with a clean record," insisted Mr Biteko. He warned dishonest miners, stating that some 102 incidents of smuggling minerals were reported.
He expounded that unscrupulous miners were risking to lose their mines or face a full wrath of law. "Let us make full use of the mineral markets that Tanzania has. Smuggling is old-fashioned," urged Mr Biteko.
He said the government's desire was to see the sector, whose growth rate stood at 17.7 percent last year, mushrooming even further.
Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was the guest of honor, said the government would keep on embracing the win-win situation.
She said Tanzania had a political will to work with investors and that the government would continue to provide its much-needed support to the private sector.
"We are committed to creating a conducive business environment to not only large-scale miners, but also small-scale miners for them to graduate to middle and eventually large-scale," she vowed.
Citing the amendments to the Mining Act, 2017, she said: "Our aim was not to hurt investors, but to create an environment whereby both the government and investors will benefit from investment."
Tanzania overhauled mining-related laws to secure a bigger slice of the pie from its vast mineral resources that include Tanzanite, graphite, diamonds and other rare earth minerals.
Yesterday, the Vice President said it was the responsibility of the government to ensure that the mining and processing of minerals activities went smoothly for all industry's players to benefit from the sector.
Ms Hassan welcomed investors to come and invest in Tanzania in the form of partnership with the government.
"We still have abundant untapped potentials that need investors to invest in," she asserted.
The president and CEO of Barrick Gold Corporation, Mr Mark Bristow, commended the government for creating an enabling climate for investments.
He applauded the formation of Twiga Minerals Corporation - which is a partnership between the government and Barrick Gold Corporation, saying it was a historic event and a catalyst for taking the industry to the apex.
The company, which was formed to manage the Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Buzwagi mines, was meant to settle all disputes between the government and the mining companies formerly operated by Acacia but now managed by Barrick.
"When we were taking over Acacia, the mines were in a bad shape, but since then they (mines) are producing encouraging results," said Mr Bristow.
"Successful partnership is key for shaping the mining industry.
"And for the mining sector to remain competitive, we all need to invest in advanced technology."
Federation of miners associations of Tanzania (Femata) president John Bina commended the government for scrapping nuisance taxes.
However, he called on the government to provide local government leaders with education meant to do away with mineral conflicts.
He also requested the government to set an environment that would enable miners to access loans from banks.
"It is surprising to see some large-scale miners seeking loans from outside the country. The government needs to step in, if we are to take the mining sector to a higher height," Mr Bina suggested.
His sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the small miners association in Chato District, Mr Godfrey Mitti, who doubles as the Femata gold committee chairman.
He attributed inaccessibility to loans to lack of minerals experts in the financial institutions who could interpret borrowers' application documents and understand them.
"We have deposited our money in banks. Why is it difficult for us to access loans?" Mr Mitti, who is also a Buseresere Ward Councilor asked.
Tanzania Bankers Association chairman Abdulmajid Nsekela said with the government's initiatives to formalise the mining sector and promote local content, the problem of loan accessibility among miners will be a thing of the past.
Mr Nsekela, who doubles as the CRDB Bank managing director, said his bank had in the last three to four years disbursed over Sh110 billion to miners.