The minister who conducted an impromptu visit at one of the informal factory located at Bunango village in Bugarama ward, Kahama district in Shinyanga region, said those who engage in the illegal trade will face stern measures.
“I was informed by a Good Samaritan on the existence of informal factories here, bad enough, these people are conducting the activities in people’s settlements thus risking their health and environment,” he said.
According to him, despite the government’s efforts to improve environment of small scale miners to operate, some of them are still reluctant to accept the changes.
“The informal factory has a capacity of carrying 700kg of gold, so you can see the picture how much minerals have been smuggled due to illegal processing activities carried in the area,” he said.
Biteko directed security bodies to search and arrest all people responsible for the illegal businesses including the village’s leadership, owner of the houses.
He wanted all traders to adhere to the country’s laws, saying that anybody smuggling minerals out of the country will face the full force of the law.
The minister urged business persons in the minerals sector to sell their gemstones at minerals trading centers built by the government across the country.
Masoud Bakari, one of the leaders at the village said he is aware that there are some youth who are engaging in mineral processing activities but wasn’t aware on the issue of smuggling.
“After identifying their activities, we gave them a go ahead permission because they came at the village’s office to introduce themselves,” he said.
In March, this year when speaking during the launch of the Geita Gold Market Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said “All mineral-producing regions should set up the trading centres as soon as possible to serve small miners.”
The Premier said the Geita centre would serve as a model for others adding that all the centres to be built were aimed at controlling smuggling of gold and other minerals.
Reports cites Tanzania as the Africa’s fourth-biggest gold producer after South Africa, Ghana and Mali and gold exports are a key source of foreign exchange.
It exported gold worth $1.549 billion last year, up slightly from $1.541 billion in 2017, central bank data shows. The mining sector contributes around 4.8 per cent to Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the government.