12 MAY 2021
By Bernard Lugongo
THE government has clarified on three major concerns raised by large and middle scale miners over local content, exploration and mining projects financing.
Minerals Minister Dotto Biteko stated that the government has amended the mining law in good faith and intention, mainly to beef up participation of Tanzanians in the sector, thus the issue of local content in the Act would remain untouched.
He made his argument based on historical background whereby the mining Act went through three amendments since 1970’s.
He noted that during those previous years, there was exclusivity for people to invest in the sector, the government was mainly engaging in mining activities with the view of protecting national resources.
Later in 1998, the law was amended to welcome foreigners to come to invest, among others were the Geita Gold Mining (GGM).
However, in the course of welcoming more foreign investors, Tanzanians complained that those companies were taking it all and leaving the locals with nothing.
Again, Mr Biteko explained that in 2010, the government also discovered that the mining sector was operating itself without motivating other sectors.
Therefore, in 2017, the government resolved to change the law to enable more participation of Tanzanians in the mining sector by inserting the phrase of local content in the mining law to make Tanzanians benefit from the sector.
That was from the fact that mining companies were importing almost everything, thus people were not benefiting from the mining activities.
“Let me tell you that our law on local content is in good intention; we can’t go back to the early days as far as local content is concerned. If we make a mistake by leaving behind Tanzanians, those minerals will finish and leave people in poverty,” the minister told members of the Tanzania Chamber of Mines during a meeting in Dar es Salaam.
The meeting was convened to hear from the miners over challenges they encounter. He further explained the issue of exploration, noting that looking at the increased number of the issued exploration licenses; it proved that mining exploration activities were increasing. “We have given many exploration licenses to foreign companies.
Anyone who wants to do exploration let them come, we still have room for application,” he told the members.
He went on to speak about financing, admitting that there was hesitation by foreign financial institutions to fund mining projects in the country, however local banks are now ready to finance the mining projects.
“We have talked with banks over considering a joint venture to finance the big mining projects and we will continue educating them,” he said.
However, he promised the miners that the government will consider their views meant to improve the mining law to address their challenges.
“The government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan is open to ensure that it listens to anyone. The duty of building our economy is upon ourselves and the president has directed us to get rid of bureaucracy and be ready to help anyone who wants to invest in the mining sector and get profit,” he stated.
Earlier, the Tanzania Chamber of Mines, made recommendations to what they deemed as challenges to their endeavor to take the mining sector to the next level.
Chairperson of the chamber, Eng Philbert Rweyemamu said they noticed that there was notable reduced rate mining exploration activities in the country, something which was unhealthy for the sector.
He further said some of the requirements of local content in the law are impractical, calling for review of the Act.
He also told the Minister that they faced hitches when seeking financing for mining projects, saying the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) is still incapable of financing capital for big mining projects in the country, thus calling for a need to facilitate foreign direct investment.