The Association of Tanzania Artisanal and Small-scale Miners is yet to start operating, the reason being that its office bearers are expected to begin work after the elections slated for Dodoma later this week.
Speaking to The Guardian in an exclusive interview, Energy and Minerals deputy minister Stephen Masele said: “The move is part of government’s efforts to formalise the sector.”
Masele explained that the organisation which would serve as the umbrella body for Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASM) will play a crucial role in promoting the country’s ASM industry.
“The government’s aim is to see ASM builds a sound productive economy and of those networked to the sector, therefore, there is a need to identify them…we have ordered all zonal mineral commissioners to work on the move,” he said.
The deputy minister further explained that the regions which have already done with the identification process, should now come up with formation of district and regional mining cooperatives.
“Today (Thursday) leaders for Arusha Small Miners Association will be elected, next week we will be in Mwanza…after we are done with district and regional elections, from Dec 5, this year, we will then meet in Dodoma to elect national leaders,” he added.
According to him, the government will also conduct a dialogue in which ASM concerns are going to be dealt with accordingly.
“Conflicts between large and small-scale miners are yet to be solved as we have a plan to designate some areas that will purposely serve for the artisanal and small-scale mining activities,” Masele said.
“There are also large miners who own licenses with gold reserves in the regions of between 100,000 and 300,000 ounces that are not suitable for major mining investments…. We held a meeting with they have agreed to give these areas to the government for small scale mining,” he said.
Further, the deputy minister noted that already 21 licenses meant for ASM have been issued in Mgusu, Geita Region, adding that the mining area was formally owned by Anglo Gold Ashanti.
However, mining conflicts are not only between large and small scale miners. The Bomani Presidential Mining Sector Review Committee once notes: “There are also complaints that small miners are usually allocated tiny mining sites that make it difficult to operate without interfering with each other.”
A recent report by the UN dubbed Analysis of Formalisation Approaches in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining Sector states there are multiple examples of the observations made by the Bomani report, especially in Marerani whereby 50sq metres is allocated to every small scale miner in bloc B compared to block C that is largely allocated to big miners.
Other areas in Nyarugusu, Bukombe and Ngizo Primary School as well as some segments in Mererani under the ownership of district councils would be given to the ASM, he said.
The government will provide modern explosive devices, technology, marketing information, training and extension services as well as other important things that are available in the world market such as price, he said.