Mining firm registers successes, reinforcing peoples’ livelihoods

22Apr 2023
The Guardian
Mining firm registers successes, reinforcing peoples’ livelihoods

GEITA Gold Mining Limited (GGML) has unveiled a number of successes since its inception in 2000, ranging from education, health, charity, development projects and improving peoples’ livelihoods.

Simon Shayo, Vice President for AngloGold Ashanti Sustainability for Tanzania and Ghana said GGML has always been committed to ensuring that communities surrounding the mine benefit from mining activities in the region, and has led the way with its sustainable social investments that have increased support for local communities.

He said that GGML's strategic objective is to integrate mining into development policies at local, national and regional levels saying in doing so, the company has shaped the attitudes of other key stakeholders in the mineral extraction industries.

According to him, in 2018, GGML became the first mining company in Tanzania to take the lead and develop and implement a credible CSR plan in accordance with Section 105 of the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) No. 7 of 2017, which amends the Mining Act No. 14 of 2010.

This has led to the company entering into strategic partnerships with local government authorities and other stakeholders to drive inclusive socio-economic development in Geita, with annual investments of 9.2bn/- per annum, rising to 19bn/- for projects under the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the 2022/2023 fiscal year.

“With the intention of creating a legacy and supporting government initiatives to create a sustainable economy that can outlast mining activities in Geita. GGML continues to work with various stakeholders to improve education, health and infrastructure in all other areas prioritised by the government,” he said.

On education, Shayo said the mining firm believes that it’s a cornerstone for Tanzania's development.

“So, GGML supported the construction of a number of primary and secondary schools in the Geita region, including Nyankumbu Girls Secondary School, the largest secondary school for girls in Geita, which was officially opened in 2014 and for whose construction GGML provided 15bn/- under the leadership of the Geita Town Council,” he said.

The Shayo’s remarks was seconded by Georgia Mugashe, the Nyankumbu Girls Secondary School, headmistress, who said that the establishment of the school has benefited so many people and is a saviour for the region.

“This academic year, the school has admitted a total of 240 new students in form one after being heavily oversubscribed,” the headmistress attested.

After the establishment of Nyankumbu Girls Secondary School, there were still too few school places in Geita for Form Five and Six students and the district authorities directed the construction of Bugando and Kamena secondary schools with a contribution of 287,500,000/- under GGML's 2018 CSR Plan.

The construction of these two government high schools was completed in time for the admission of the first students for the 2021/2022 school year.

On the KILI Challenge against HIV/Aids, Shayo stated that GGML in collaboration with other stakeholders launched campaign over 20 years ago.

“The mining firm’s idea was to complement government’s efforts in the fight against HIV/Aids in Tanzania and to rise funds each year to support communities in areas severely affected by the pandemic,” Shayo said, stressing that as part of the campaign, a team of cyclists circles the base of Mount Kilimanjaro while climbers scale the summit of Africa's highest mountain.

“This year's challenge is scheduled for 14 July, when another group of climbers and cyclists will train with the common goal of joining the more than 800 people from all parts of the world who have successfully completed this rewarding challenge, helping to raise the more than 1.3 billion to support more than 20 private institutions in providing services to victims of the epidemic.”

According to Shayo, one of the beneficiaries of the funds is the AGAPE Centre in Njombe region which last year received a grant of 29.9m/- after submitting a proposal to the GGM Kili Challenge board of trustees.

Enara Nyagawa, AGAPE Centre's coordinator said that the funds have helped improve the environment of access to education for children and families living with HIV.

The mining firm also supported the ‘Moyo wa Huruma Orphanage’ in Geita Region, which is run in collaboration with Roman Catholic Diocese of Geita (RCDG) since 2004.

He also said that through the GGM Kili Challenge Against HIV & AIDS Fund and the Geita District Council. The facility was officially inaugurated in 2006 and started operating as a residential home in the same year, caring for orphans, most of whose parents have died of HIV & AIDS and who are in a vulnerable state.

The centre has so far 113 children and employs 14 staff. GGML funds the running costs of the centre estimated at 50m/- per quarter and the centre also receives about 150m/- per year from GGM Kili Challenge Against HIV & AIDS Fund for infrastructure.

As part of its CSR mandate, Shayo also stated that GGML has made significant investments in the health sector, whereby more than 20 health centres in the Geita region have benefited from the mining centre's CSR funding.

“This has contributed to the purchase of medical and surgical equipment at Nyamalembo, Nyakahongola, Kasota, Kakubiro, Bukoli and Katoro health centres.”

According to Shayo, a total of 565m/- was disbursed by GGML to Geita Referral Hospital to support the rehabilitation of the facility, which was built in 1957, and the improvement of cardiology services.

GGML also partnered with the Rafiki Surgical Mission of Australia and donated four ambulances. Over the past 20 years, GGML has financially supported the free surgical treatment of more than 2,000 patients with cleft lip and palate.

On Jubilee medical boat, Shayo attested that the first Jubilee Medical Boat made its maiden voyage in February 2015.

The project is part of the partnership between the African Inland Church of Tanzania, the Vine Trust of Scotland and GGML, the boat operates in the islands of Lake Victoria, which originally had no access to medical services.

In October 2021, GGML signed a Memorandum of Understanding to extend support for the medical boat for a further five years to maintain the provision of primary health care services, including maternal health care, voluntary HIV testing and care and treatment for AIDS, immunization, dentistry and general basic health education and care with a focus on maternal and child health.

Basic laboratory services and a general pharmacy are also provided, with all services free of charge reaching more than 158,000 residents on various islands in Lake Victoria since the project started.

On business development for Tanzanians, the mining firm’s official said: “GGML sees it as its duty to ensure that CSR investments fully engage local communities in the Geita region and the expansion of local procurement.”

The signing of the capacity-building programme between GGML and National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) increased the transparency of GGML's procurement standards and made it easier for local businesses to supply one of the largest employers in the region, the official said.

“Since the launch of this Local Content initiative, over 300 local businesses have received valuable training to help them better understand and position themselves as potential suppliers. The number of Tanzanian companies that make up Geita Gold Mining's local supplier network now exceeds 300 and accounts for 76percent of total procurement spend in Tanzania.”

One such beneficiary of the collaboration between the mine and NEEC is GGML's contractor—Blue Coast Investment Limited, whereby it got the tender to transport one-third of the fuel used by the mining company for its machinery and vehicles.

Jeremiah Musa, manager of Blue Coast Investment Ltd explained that the GGML also provided the company with training that enabled it to successfully participate in two other tenders and win the contract, allowing the company to expand and increase its workforce to over 400 Tanzanians.

On the integrated mining technical training (IMTT), Shayo said that GGML is one of the main sponsors of the training, which is supported by the Moshi-based Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA), whereby more students are enrolled.

The idea, he said improves the quality of outcomes, especially for students taking various courses related to the mining industry. In October 2021, GGML donated equipment worth 132m/-.

On improving farmers' livelihoods, Shayo stated that in 2015, GGML and the Cholima Agriculture Institute initiated a special capacity-building programme that imparted knowledge and best agronomic practices.

The programme led to the introduction of sunflower cultivation and the adoption of improved farming practices for rice cultivation.

Since the project began in the seven villages, the fortunes of the 220 farmers cultivating 350 hectares of land have changed for the better. GGML has also invested in a sunflower processing factory in Kasota and financed the construction of a mill (milling, grading and packing) and storage facilities under the Saragurwa Rice Paddy Project, where 700 farmers (85percent women) cultivate 600 hectares of land.

He said that through the exchange of knowledge and best agronomic practices, the lives of many farmers have been transformed thanks to GGML's support, in some cases achieving as much as 250% higher yields.

A sunflower farmer from Kasota village, Saakumi Makungu, who is also the chairperson of the Nyabusakama cooperative said: "We thank the management of GGML and the council for supporting us because we had to walk 25 kilometres to access a sunflower processing machine but now we are doing the same with rice here."

As part of increased focus on community livelihoods, GGML donated 23 tonnes of sunflower seeds worth $46,956 with a distribution of 13.8 tonnes in Geita District Council and 9.1 tonnes in Geita Town Council. The support reflects GGML’s ambition to transform the agriculture sector to the communities around the mine since 2015 where most of the farmers relied on their smallholdings to mostly cultivate maize, cassava, groundnuts and raise livestock.

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