Mineral officials assure workers on safety of tanzanite mines


The tanzanite mines at Mererani in Simanjiro District of Manyara Region are safe and show no signs that they will collapse as some miners claimed, according to senior mineral officials.

Deputy commissioner for minerals Ally Samaje said here over the weekend that findings from a recent inspection on Tanzanite One located in the remote area of Mererani, showed that the mine was not in danger of sinking.

He said the inspection was part of implementation by his office of an order by Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara regional security committees after some of the mine workers claimed that there were signs that the mine would sink.

The claim prompted mine workers to organise a strike to press the management to do a thorough inspection of the mine.

“But inspectors have played their part and their findings show that the mine is safe and no threat exists claimed before,” Samaje assured miners, calling on them to continue with their mining activities.

He said inspectors deployed specialised machines for the exercise.

He also said that the use of X-ray machines when workers are getting into and out of the mine was safe. “Those X-ray machines are safe for inspection because they are similar to those used in other places.”

He, however, urged the owner of the mine and workers to imbibe a culture of respecting rules and regulations and living in harmony.

For his part, one of the owners of Tanzanite One, Faisali Juma Shahbhi, said he had met with workers who agreed to resolve their differences.

He also said that they would continue to address the current challenges including ensuring that worker’ rights are enforced and their plights listened to.

The country’s giant tanzanite mining company, Tanzanite-One, and its affiliates have now been taken over by Tanzanians after Arusha-based businessmen Hussein Gonga and Faisal Shahbhat acquired the 50 percent stake previously owned by Richland Resources Limited of the UK.

Richland Resources Limited used to run the giant mining firm in a joint-venture with Tanzania’s State Mining Company (STAMICO).

Small-scale mining in Tanzania is to a large extent unregulated, and therefore not safe. For example, some 48 miners in Mererani were in 2002 suffocated to death when a compressor used to pump in clean air failed to work, according to a recent report by the Pan African Medical Journal (PAMJ).

In 2006, a miner was killed when he was hit by falling loose rocks  and in March 2007 the death of three miners in the same area was attributed to collapsed pits. Also at Mererani in 2008, at least 65 miners drowned to death after floods swept through pits and tunnels. These are just but a few deaths caused by mining accidents in the country.

Common causes of fatal injury include rocks falling, fires, explosions, mobile equipment accidents, and falls from height, entrapment, suffocation and flooding of underground workings. Several studies have revealed the role of human behaviour in mine injuries. 


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