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Digging deep: Tanzania set to exploit its vast mining potential

Article - November 30, 2011
While agriculture and tourism form the backbone of the Tanzanian economy, in recent years mining has been playing an increasingly important role.
The country is richly endowed with natural resources, and is the third largest gold producer in Africa after Ghana and South Africa. Tanzania has major deposits of diamonds and gemstones (tanzanite, emerald, ruby) and significant reserves of iron, coal, uranium, nickel and copper.

So far, mining – particularly for gold and gemstones – is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Tanzanian economy. That said, mining only accounts for 2.3 per cent of GDP at present – but the government aims to make the industry account for 10 per cent or more of the country’s GDP over the next 14 years, based on the Development Vision 2025 plan.

President Jakaya Kiwete recognises the time has come for the country to use its natural resources by investing in modern technologies as some neighbours have done: “We cannot continue to moan about our country being poor while our minerals are lying untapped. With harvesting at Lake Natron, we will not be the first to do so, because our neighbours in Kenya are doing the same on the other side of the lake.”

The government is keen to pass on the rewards of mining to the people of Tanzania, approving a new Mining Act last year while discussing new tax structures to replace the Mineral Policy of 1997. Minister for Energy and Minerals, the Hon William Mganga Ngeleja, explains: “We need reliable and predictable laws which give confidence to investors but also ensure that the private players in the market (the mining companies) are accountable too. We joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – where we are teaming up with others at a global level so that we can increase accountability and transparency in terms of revenues from mining. The government will be responsible for disclosing how that money is spent, and how the people of Tanzania are benefitting. The more the mining sector grows, the more job opportunities will arise and the better off the economy will be.”