Tanzania Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has calmed down mining investors affected by the ban on export of copper concentrates, saying the government wants to clear doubts over its real composition and if it was getting the revenue it deserved.
Mr Majaliwa made an impromptu visit to the Buzwagi Gold Mine (BZGM) on Monday and said while the government recognised the role of the investors, it also has to clear doubts that the country was not being short-changed with regard to copper concentrates export.
“I want to assure Tanzanians questioning this exercise that we are not doing this to scare away investors, we want to satisfy ourselves on what is going on with our mines. We want to satisfy ourselves that charge is appropriate,” he told BZGM workers and residents.
The PM’s statement comes in the wake of heightened debate over the unexpected ban of export of gold and copper ore by President John Magufuli early in the month.
The President visited the Dar es Salaam Port last week and inspected 20 containers of copper concentrate that had been cleared for export.
Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai also visited the port and announced that he will form a parliamentary team to look into the copper concentrates export saga.
As of yesterday, authorities were still holding about 300 containers belonging to Acacia following President Magufuli’s ban. At Buzwagi, Majaliwa’s team collected samples of copper concentrates from over 100 containers destined for export for testing at government laboratories.
“We want to verify if the mineral sand we export contained a minimal amount of gold while copper form the highest percentage of it so that we satisfy ourselves if the tax we get from the business is what we actually deserve,” he said.
Most importantly, said the PM, was that the government would want to see the mineral sand is sorted locally as speculated in the Mining Policy of 2009. “So, let Acacia investors and its employees worry not about this exercise. We wouldn’t want to see Acacia lay off employees; we are jut checking...rest assured your production will continue,” he said. BZGM, established in 2009, employs 720 permanent and 500 temporary workers.
In Dar es Salaam, small scale miners urged the government to lift its ban on exports of all concentrates and ore metallic minerals, arguing some were facing imminent closure due to loss of revenue.
Tanzania Small-Scale Miners Association chairman Thobias Rweyemamu said at least 67 containers of copper (60) and nickel (7) were being seized, a move he said has caused them huge losses on the daily basis.
He said the government should conduct a feasibility study to determine the mineral deposits before installing a smelter.
A small miner King Selemani said he was now paying $20 (Sh45,000) daily in storage charges per each container held at a yard in the city.