Tanzania: Plans to Inspect Over 35,000 Small-Scale Mines Underway

Source: ALLAFRICA

The government is planning to carry out massive inspection of over 35,000 licensed small-scale mines amid serious shortage of professional mining engineers and inspectors.

Acting Commissioner of Minerals, Engineer Ally Samaje, told this newspaper recently in Geita that his ministry had around 60 mining engineers countrywide who cannot manage to undertake the task even if they were overstretched.

Engineer Samaje said the collapse of small mines like the Nyarugusu accident could be curbed in large extent if a substantial number of mining would be employed to bridge the current gap.

He said the inspection of mining sites across the country was crucial due to the fact that many of the licensed mines were operating under dubious circumstances apart from applying a very poor technology.

"The Nyarugusu incident has once again reminded us of the crucial need to carry out regular and intensive inspections on almost 35,000 small miners countrywide, over 1,000 of whom are in Geita Region," he said.

Mr Samaje was still unsure when the huge gap of mining inspectors will be reduced as request of their employment were turned down in the past due to shortage of resources.

Apart from the licensed mine sites, Engineer Samaje said the Ministry of Energy and Minerals was also work-ing out strategies to identify unlicensed mining sites al-ready attracting thousands of intruders for illegal mining activities.

Available estimates show that the country has over two million people conducting mining activities countrywide save for the unlicensed ones which call for deliberate efforts to save them from different hazards, he said.

 
 

He disclosed another ambitious plan where the government in collaboration with the World Bank will procure seven processing plants that will be installed in seven centres for professional processing of gold and other minerals.

"This plan is at advanced stage and demonstration areas will be supplied with those machines as we fight hard to curb illegal and haphazard processing of mineral products from our small-scale mines," he said.

He mentioned the centres to be installed with the plants as Katente in Bukombe District, Geita Region, Buhemba in Mara Region, Mpanda in Katavi Region and Chunya in Mbeya Region.

Others are Kyerwa in Kagera Region, Kiomoni in Tanga Region and Masaga-sa in Mtwara Region, with gold, tin, limestone and salt being some of the minerals that will be processed, get-ting rid of local and dangerous processing currently undertaken.

While the plants will help in monitoring the amount of precious mineral products and quality, they will also save small miners from using toxic chemicals like mercury that despite being prohibited was still used in many sites as part of the processing methods.

According to Eng Sama-je, small-scale mining in the country is estimated to produce over 20 tonnes of gold, half of that produced by small-scale mines and giant mining companies produce around 40 tonnes a year.

However, the larger portion of the mining products produced by small miners were not recorded at all for the time being, denying the country revenues needed to finance its development project.

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