The death of a tanzanite miner at the Gem & Rock Venture Mine, which is bordered underground by CT Shaft of TanzaniteOne Mining Ltd at Mirerani Town in Simanjiro District, has prompted the closure of both mines.
This comes after five days of heavy fighting between the workers of the two companies, with each camp blaming the other for attacks using improvised explosives through underground holes.
Following the attacks, one of the miners of Gem & Rock Venture Mine, Lembris Mbatia (22), lost his life while 13 others were left with wounds after being hit with the explosives allegedly hurled by TanzaniteOne workers.
Speaking yesterday, the assistant commissioner of minerals for the Southern Zone, Mr Adam Juma said he decided to suspend operations of the two mines, pending investigation into the conflict between the miners of the two companies.
Mr Juma added that they decided to halt the operations in order to give room for discussion between the two conflicting sides with a view to finding an amicable solution.
He disclosed that some workers from the mineral investigation unit of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals were expected in area where they would have inspected the mines with the aim of finding the solution.
For his part, the Simanjiro District Commissioner in Manyara Region, Mr Zephania Chaula, called upon both sides to meet and discuss the matter in order to find a lasting solution to the dispute.
“We still insist that all miners should refrain from using locally-made explosives. I have already directed the police to take stern action against all those involved in such ugly incidents,” said Mr Chaula.
He explained that the issue of security in the mines was supposed to be given a top priority, cautioning that if problems occurred in the mines, no mining activities would be allowed.
The Gem & Rock Venture Mine manager, Mr Joel Saitoti, claimed that it was normal for the workers of TanzaniteOne to illegally annex the mines whenever rumours circulated that the mine bordering theirs was endowed with lots of minerals.
Mr Saitoti explained that what TanzaniteOne was doing was not proper because many of the small miners had been denied their rights of owning shafts.
“Although the activities of both mines have been suspended, TanzaniteOne still carries out mining activities in their other mines and now we are waiting to meet them so that we find the solution,” said Mr Saitoti.
However, the TanzaniteOne security manager, Mr Abubakary Yombe, denied the allegation vehemently, saying the workers of his firm were not responsible for the death of Mbatia, a miner of Gem & Rock Venture.
Mr Yombe explained that they were working in the area permitted by their licence, adding that the miners of Gem & Rock Venture Mine were the ones to blame for encroaching on their mining area.