Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Environment) Dr Therezya Huvisa has called upon Mantra Tanzania Limited (MTL) and other mining companies to invest in community development projects.
Dr Huvisa made the call yesterday during a tour of the Mkuju River Uranium Project in Namtumbo District, Ruvuma Region. MTL has completed an environmental and social impact assessment for the Mkuju River Project and a grant of the certificate will be done by the Minister for Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment.
Dr Huvisa said after a thorough insight of the company’s presentations on the project and her visit to the site, she noted that the project was located a few kilometres away from the communities and would have an advantage of minimal impact on and interaction with communities.
“A unique feature of the Mkuju River project is that it is located so many kilometres away from local communities unlike some mining projects that have disputes with local communities.
“Nevertheless, MTL should invest in various development projects to ensure local communities benefit from the oroject,” she said.
Namtumbo district commissioner (DC) Savelli Maketta in a quick re-joiner said there was no doubt the project would benefit local people and the nation at large.
He, however, noted that some ill-intentioned activists who had not even reached the project’s site had been spreading rumours about the project without undertaking any serious research.
“Local communities are anxiously waiting for the project to kick-start. Why should activists, who have not even reached the project’s site lodge complaints? This project will enable the district move forward both economically and socially.
MTC manager Asa Mwaipopo noted that his company had completed exploration in 2010, a bankable feasibility study last year and was carrying out value-re-engineering, while awaiting licences and permits to start mine development.
On allegations that uranium may in the long run contaminate water sources around the project, Mwaipopo said the mine was designed to a “Zero discharge” and the likelihood was minimal.
He further said baseline studies had been undertaken to establish the current status and monitoring programmes were in place to ascertain trends.
The Mkuju River project upon commencing operation will be the first major mining development in South Eastern Tanzania and will bring in significant benefits including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of US$450 million, US$250 million in annual foreign currency receipts, creating up to 1,600 jobs during the construction phase and 600 jobs at a steady state of operation, amongst other benefits.