Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals, Stanslaus Nyongo announced the decision to close the mines on January 13, 2018 in presence of Mara Regional Commissioner, Adam Malima and Butiama District Commissioner, Annarose Nyamubi.
According to Nyongo, there are 16 gold mines at Buhemba only 10 of them will continue to operate. He said the six gold mines which have been closed were posing health risks to miners and could not meet the required safety standards.
He said the government suspended mining activities at Buhemba gold mines in February 2017 after the death of seven miners. He said that 15 miners were seriously injured during the accident which was largely associated with unsafe mining practices.
“We suspended mining activities to give time to owners and authority to improve its environment to meet recommended safety and health standards. Inspection of the mines was supposed to be completed this January”, said Nyongo adding that reports indicate that only 10 mines have met the required standards.
The deputy minister noted that the government decided to lift the ban after realizing that most of the people in the district were depending on the mines for their livelihoods.
“I visited this place in December last year, there were so many complaints from the people over closure of the mines…I directed officials to speed up inspection to enable the residents to continue with mining activities”, Nyongo noted.
He directed district mine inspectors to make regular inspections at the mines and conduct trainings to artisanal miners on issues related to safety and health in the mines. He said trainings will help reduce accidents.
He urged the artisanal miners to pay government taxes, threatening that any failure to pay taxes and levies will lead to closure of the mines.
He said the government wants the mines to operate so that it collects tax.
“We have lifted the ban to allow you continue with mining activities…we want these activities to boost revenue collections at district and national level”, he said.
Nyongo is in the region for official visit which includes inspection of mines.
A 2012 report by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Tanzania which is the fourth largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa, Ghana and Mali is estimated to have between 500,000 and 1.5 million artisanal and small-scale miners.