Tanzania: Government Plans Bulk Procurement of Mercury

Dodoma — The government is planning bulk procurement of Mercury in order to prevent arbitrary importation and use of the chemical in the country.

The move aims to prevent the effects of the chemicals to human beings, plants and the environment.

Mineral minister Dotto Biteko made the statement at the Parliament on Monday, May 3, 2021 when responding to a supplementary question from Ms Kabula Shitobelo (Special Seats MP-Mwanza) who sought to know when the government was considering to ban arbitrary use of the chemical that has serious health effects including causing cancer.

Mr Biteko said the Government Chief Chemist (GCC) was finalizing procedures for bulk procurement of Mercury.

"The government has recognized 5,025 landing sites used for gold refinery," he said, adding.

"Identification of these centres aims to reduce and finally eliminate informal centres that have been contributing to increased health effects to people, plants and environment caused by mercury."

Earlier, deputy minister of Minerals, Prof Shukrani Manya said Cyanide was the most preferred and recommended chemical to replace mercury in gold refinery that despites of causing health effects to people, plants and environment, it gives less than 30 percent of gold recovery therefore give small scale miners low profit.

He made the statement when responding to a question by Special Seats MP, Ms Hawa Mchafu who wanted to know when the use of Mercury would be replaced by Cyanide in order to increase the amount of Gold refined and therefore the profit to artisan miners.

"Despite of being preferred and recommended, cyanide is very expensive, therefore preventing many small scale miners from using it," he said, adding.

"The government will continue educating artisan miners on the effects of Mercury and the benefits of using Cyanide in gold refinery as well as encouraging them to work in groups in order to increase their financial capacity to manage high prices cyanide."

Earlier, responding to the main question asked by Ms Mchafu, Prof Manya said Mercury had several effects including causing kidney, liver and cancer, while at the same time recovering only 30 percent of gold during refinery.

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