The government has started applying the use of certificate of origin system in gemstone exports in a move to check smuggling, particularly of tanzanite.
Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja informed journalists that the system came into effect in October last year, adding that it will help not only to curb smuggling of minerals but also increase government revenue.
To that effect, the minister said, it is holding a four-day fair cum conference dubbed Arusha International Gemstone, Jewelry and Minerals Fair scheduled beginning April 26 this year to tell importers that non certified gem imports should be restricted.
He said the government has been making efforts to ensure that the nation benefit from tanzanite, by among other things, imposing a ban on the exportation of raw tanzanite, only found in Tanzania.
Ngeleja said that introduction of certificate of origin was extra efforts taken by the government because it will help to curb illegal exportation of minerals especially gemstones.
At the Arusha Fair, he said, the government will present a topic to sensitise tanzanite buyers not to purchase non certified gemstones.
“The aim is to ensure that we curb all illegal exportation of minerals and the importers do not accept the tanzanite which has no certificate of origin,” the minister insisted.
Further, he said, the fair will bring together gemstone dealers from East, Central and Southern Africa as well as international gemstone experts, government representatives and other mining stakeholders.
Ngeleja said the fair will involve exhibitions of gemstones, jewelry activities and gemstones cutting equipment.
“Through the fair, the participating countries will showcase their mineral resources and share their experience on how to add value to minerals,” Ngeleja said.
For his part, Deputy Commissioner for Minerals, Ally Samaje said that certificate of origin which started to be issued last year can be obtained either in Dar es Salaam or Arusha mineral offices.
Samaje mentioned the major buyers of tanzanite as US, India, German, Israel and South Africa.
Tanzania Mineral Dealers Association (TAMDA) chairman Sammy Mollel said the introduction of the certificate of origin will help to control the smuggling of tanzanite and make the country benefit from its minerals.
The government, he said, will use the fair to convince the tanzanite buyers, US being the biggest, that there is need to bar imports that do not have certificate of origin.
In November last year Energy and Minerals deputy minister Adam Malima informed the National Assembly that plans were underway to apply the certificate of origin system in a move to control exports of tanzanite and other minerals.
Malima said the government planned to promote use of the new system and was by then communicating with other countries, including the US and India, to restrict importation of the gemstone without certificate of origin.
He said the minister in collaboration with the Minerals Advisory and Development Board has resolved to make tanzanite a ‘specified’ gemstone, adding that the move would help to put in place a proper procedure for its extraction and exportation.
He said the Minerals Act, 2010 clearly states that, tanzanite mining is only for Tanzanians unless there is need for advanced technology.
He said under such circumstances, the minister and the advisory board could invite an investor to establish a joint venture with local miners.
The aim, he added, is to ensure that Tanzanians benefit from their minerals.
In 2010 the government banned exports of unprocessed tanzanite in a bid to increase the contribution of the gemstone to the economy through local processing.
The move came in the wake of the landmark passage by parliament of the Mining Bill, 2010 into an Act aimed at putting the exploitation of the gemstones wholly in the hands of indigenous Tanzanians.