The Tanzania Women Miners Association (Tawoma) has urged the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo, not to waver in addressing the concerns of small scale miners, who feel they have been sidelined for a long time by the big miners.
“We are happy the new minister has started very well. Taking the initiative to call representatives of small miners …listening to our problems on first hand basis means a lot,” Tawoma chairperson Eunice Negele said.
She said after meeting the minister in Dodoma, they have faith that he was committed to ensuring a business environment that will see small miners climbing out the walls of poverty.
The minister had called in the artisanal miners to discuss best ways to improve their activities.
Negele said in a statement released yesterday that small miners have faced problems for many years. “The issues the minister has promised to address we have been agitating for them for many years,” she said.
Here is a list of some of the challenges presented to the minister.
According to them, artisanal miners don’t have adequate education on mining business. The minister promised the government would work on providing education to those who need to learn about new technology and business acumen. New books would also be availed, he said.
Small miners don’t have security of tenure on the lands they work on, the minister was also told. On this, Prof Muhongo promised that the government would set up special zones for small miners, and there would be more transparency in issuance of mining licenses.
Finance is one of the things that small scale miners don’t have access to because they don’t have collaterals. The minister pledged to address the issue through the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB).
Furthermore, artisanal miners use outdated and sometimes dangerous technology. On this the minister also promised to look at ways of modernising their tools.
Besides, they called upon the government to establish a joint market for artisanal miners, which would also help stab illegal exportation of the country’s minerals.
Prof Muhongo also promised to look at it.
On value additions, the small miner asked for help in processing at home some of the minerals to add more value. The minister promised that the government would create a conducive environment for the mining sector so as to attract private companies to invest in value addition for this sector.
They also wanted the conflicts between large and small miners to be reduced, by the government addressing the concerns of the artisanal miners.
For his part, the minister asked the small miners to be united from district, regional to national levels, so as to seek collective solutions to the woes facing them.
Commenting on lack of market, Negele said small-scale miners lack common market and as a result they sell minerals they mine at exploitative prices.
“If artisanal miners will have a common market it would help them to sell their minerals at justifiable prices,” she noted.
Most of the mineral-rich areas are in the hands of large-scale miners leaving artisanal miners with poor and no permanent areas to conduct their activities, she explained.
TAWOMA Secretary General Shamsa Diwani stressed the need for the government to organise mineral exhibition shows in the country. This will enable small scale miners to promote and sell their minerals.
Diwani said that the country should also establish marketing centres for selling minerals.
“We want buyers from outside the country to come and purchase the minerals from our country. This would help the miners as well as the country to benefit,” she said.
Diwani further said that value addition to the minerals was crucial for the miners to earn more.
“When we export raw minerals we lose, because those who buy them get profit up to ten times the purchasing prices …the government should train its people and provide them with equipment so that they can add value to the minerals before they are exported,” she said.
They said that the Ministry of Energy and Minerals should involve them in the preparation of the budget so that it could be easier for it to know the needs of the artisanal miners.
Tawoma treasurer Leilla Jumbe said that the budget set aside for small scale miners was not enough to meet their needs.
She said only two people from Tawoma have benefited from the funds while the association comprised 500 members.
Mwanne Ambari, the Tawoma Vice Chairperson stressed the need for the government to educate small scale miners on how they could get funds.