SEVEN regions will soon have mineral exploration and processing centres, thanks to a strategy that the government has devised to promote mining activities in the country.
The government has through the Ministry of Energy and Minerals worked out the strategy to upgrade the capacity of small scale miners in the country to conduct profitable mining activities.
The ministry’s Project Manager, Ms Veronica Nangale, told the ‘Daily News’ at the ongoing Nanenane Agricultural Fair at Ngongo Grounds here that for many years small scale miners have been using traditional methods to process minerals.
She, however, described the traditional mining as unfriendly to both environment and artisans’ health.
“Many artisan miners have been using environmentally unfriendly and hygienically dangerous traditional methods to process minerals,” charged Ms Nangale with a concern, noting that the government has resolved to establish processing centres in various regions to equip miners with modern mining and processing skills.
The mineral centres, according to Ms Nangale, are planned for Tanga, Mara, Shinyanga, Mpanda, Kagera and Mtwara.
She said the government will next month release 3 million US dollars (about 7bn/-) as grants to small scale miners’ phase III that aims at developing small-scale mining activities in the country. She said the World Bank has already assured to give the money, noting that the amount will be distributed to different groups of artisan miners in the country, with women groups allocated 30 per cent of the total fund. The manager added that the funds will also be used to develop the seven centres.
She said that women involved in small-scale mining activities, logging and mining jewelry sculpture will also benefit from the grant that seeks to increase the number of women in the country’s blossoming mining industry.
“We expect the grants to move miners into the extraction medium level that brings more productivity to the nation,” she commented, urging small miners to join into groups to benefit from the grants.
Ms Nangale said the grants will never go to individuals, challenging miners to cooperate with the State Mining Corporation (STAMICO) in writing successful proposals and applications for grants. She, however, said that this time around the ministry will provide equipment to qualified groups or an individual artisan instead of giving cash.
“In the previous years, we were providing them with cash, but we have realised that some were misusing and mismanaging the money ... we have therefore opted to go through their proposals and offer them the required equipment for mining,” she said.
She added: “Up to 90 per cent of the grant will be offered in terms of equipment, the remaining 10 per cent can be in the form of cash.”