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Tanzanians fining Acacia Mining over 'Environmental Pollution' | Coastweek

North Mara Gold Mine is a combined open pit and underground gold mine in the Tarime District of the Mara Region of Tanzania. It is one of three gold mines Acacia Mining plc, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, operates in Tanzania, the other two being Bulyanhulu and the Buzwagi Gold Mine.  PHOTOS - ACACIA MINING PLC

Tanzania fines Acacia Mining over environmental pollution: official

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania’s environmental watchdog said on Friday it has slapped a fine of 5.6 billion Tanzanian shillings (about 2.4 million U.S. dollars) on Acacia Mining’s North Mara Gold Mine after it was found leaking contaminated water into residential areas and water sources.

Samuel Gwamaka, Director General of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), said the mining firm has also been given a three-week ultimatum to rectify weaknesses identified in its sewage disposal infrastructure.

Gwamaka was briefing the Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office responsible for the Environment, January Makamba, and the Minister for Minerals, Dotto Biteko, on their official visit to the mining firm in Mara region.

Gwamaka said an investigation carried out by NEMC and the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) found that Acacia leaked chemical effluents into residential areas and water sources, putting people’s health at risk.

The ministers said it was not the government’s motive to punish the firm for the leakage but the aim was to ensure the safety of the people and the environment.

"The government wants to get a share of the profits you make from mining gold but we are obliged to protect people’s health and lives as well as our environment," said Makamba.

He added: "We have noted that the mining process itself has no problem, so we won’t revoke your license or stop mining activities."

Biteko commended NEMC and UDSM experts for conducting the investigation that enabled the government to take appropriate action.

In September, last year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli ordered NEMC to probe pollution allegations against Acacia Mining’s North Mara Gold Mine.

For the past 10 years, residents in villages near the gold mine have been complaining that effluents released by Acacia Mining’s North Mara Gold Mine were polluting water in Mara River and Tigite River, posing major health hazard to the residents.
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 MARCH 05 - 2019 

Tanzanian authorities threaten to shut down gold mine firm over water pollution

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities on Tuesday threatened to shut down Acacia North Mara gold mine if it failed to control water effluents released by the mining firm.

Dotto Biteko, the nation’s Minister for Minerals, said the water effluents released by the mining firm were polluting water meant for domestic use in the area.

"Our major concern is about the health of Tanzanians," Biteko said on an inspection tour to Acacia North Mara in Tanzania’s northwest district of Tarime in Mara region.

He said the mining firm should take steps to control the water effluents it released before March 30.

The minister said if the mining firm fails to control the water effluents that spilled out to people’s residences the government will shut it down without giving notice.

Biteko said the government sent a team of environmental experts to the mining firm and made recommendations to the firm on how to manage the situation according to the country’s environmental laws.

Biteko said his visit to mining firm was implementation of President John Magufuli’s directive that he made in September last year to relevant authorities to address challenges facing residents in the area, including pollution of water.
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 OCTOBER 23 - 2018 

Mining company official appears in Tanzanian court over economic sabotage

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Acacia Mining Plc Managing Director for Tanzania, Asa Mwaipopo, on Tuesday appeared in a Tanzanian court facing nine counts of economic sabotage.

State Attorney Faraja Nchimbi asked the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to join the 55-year-old Mwaipopo in another case facing two other officials from Acacia Mining Plc which owns three gold mines in Tanzania.

The counts involved conspiracy to commit offences, tax evasion, corrupt transactions, leading organized crime, uttering false documents and forgery.

Meanwhile, four companies of Pangea Limited, North Mara Goldmine, Exploration Du Nord LTEE and Bulyanhulu Goldmine are also facing similar charges.
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 MARCH 05 - 2018 

Tanzanian authorities threaten to shut down gold mine firm over water pollution

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities on Tuesday threatened to shut down Acacia North Mara gold mine if it failed to control water effluents released by the mining firm.

Dotto Biteko, the nation’s Minister for Minerals, said the water effluents released by the mining firm were polluting water meant for domestic use in the area.

"Our major concern is about the health of Tanzanians," Biteko said on an inspection tour to Acacia North Mara in Tanzania’s northwest district of Tarime in Mara region.

He said the mining firm should take steps to control the water effluents it released before March 30.

The minister said if the mining firm fails to control the water effluents that spilled out to people’s residences the government will shut it down without giving notice.

Biteko said the government sent a team of environmental experts to the mining firm and made recommendations to the firm on how to manage the situation according to the country’s environmental laws.

Biteko said his visit to mining firm was implementation of President John Magufuli’s directive that he made in September last year to relevant authorities to address challenges facing residents in the area, including pollution of water.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

 OCTOBER 19 - 2018 

Barrick Gold to pay Tanzania U.S. $ 300 million dollars over dispute

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company, said on Thursday it has agreed to pay the government of Tanzania 300 million U.S. dollars to end a dispute that has hit its operations in the east African country.

In addition, Barrick Gold Executive Chairman John Thornton, said the mining firm will give Tanzania 16 percent stake in its three gold mines and 50 percent share in revenues from the mines.

Thornton revealed these decisions at the end of more than three months of negotiations between the mining firm and the government of Tanzania after the country banned the export of unprocessed minerals and enacted new laws to raise ownership of the nation’s mines.

However, Thornton said the decisions should have to be approved by the independent shareholders and directors of Acacia Mining, which is majority owned by Barrick Gold.

Tanzania is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer, and Barrick’s Acacia Mining Plc is its largest miner, with three gold mines at North Mara, Buzwagi and Bulyankulu.

President John Magufuli received a report on the outcome of the negotiations and commended members of the negotiating teams from both Barrick Gold and the government of Tanzania for "the job well done."

He commended Barrick Gold for reaching a consensus with Tanzania in resolving the long-standing disputes, saying the mining firm has done that with great love and dedication to the country.

However, President Magufuli asked Barrick Gold to pay the 300 million U.S. dollars soonest possible to enable the government to fund development projects, including the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower generation.

The president ordered that similar negotiation teams should be formed to deal with diamonds and tanzanite.
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 APRIL 05 - 2018 

Tanzanian minister orders suspension of gold-processing in southern region

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Minister for Minerals Dotto Biteko on Sunday ordered all gold-processing plants in the southern highland region of Songwe to suspend production following reports of smuggling out of the country.

"Intelligence reports show that some of the gold processors are not honest.

"They are smuggling processed gold out of the country," the minister said on a visit to inspect mining activities in the region.

He said some of the gold processors in Songwe region, bordering with Malawi and Zambia, were not adhering to regulations provided for in the gold processing business.

In March, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa launched a gold bullion market in Geita, a region in northwest Tanzania, and warned of punitive measures against smugglers.

The launch of the market was in line with President John Magufuli’s directive to ensure that Tanzania takes a lead in international gold business.

Majaliwa said the government will not tolerate anyone taking gold across borders in search of higher prices.

Security has been enhanced to control minerals smuggling and to make sure that every Tanzanian benefited from the endowed natural resources, he said.

Robert Gabriel, Geita regional commissioner, said the newly launched international gold bullion market outfit is expected to boost earnings of small-scale miners in gold extraction as well as to optimize government revenues.

According to the Federation of Miners Association of Tanzania, there are more than 6 million small-scale miners across the country.

An estimated 40.5 million people were in direct engagement with artisanal and small-scale mining in 2017, up from 30 million in 2014, 13 million in 1999 and 6 million six years before, it said.

The mining sector contributes around 4.8 percent to Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the government.
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 SEPTEMBER 13 - 2017 

Illegal gold mining threatens forest in northern Tanzania

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Protected forest in northern Tanzania’s Chome Nature Reserve is threatened by illegal activities of artisanal gold mining, authorities warned on Sunday.

Rosemary Staki, Same District Commissioner, said groups of artisanal miners have stormed the reserve in search of gold, polluting rivers and the ground with toxic substances.

The reserve lies in the Eastern Arc Mountains, and is located few kilometers from Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

Staki said that Tanzanian government plans to set up a patrol camp deep into the forest to save the 14,000 hectares of forests located in the Pare Mountains, between the West Usambara and the North Pare Mountains.

"I have witnessed the environmental destruction of highest scale. In some areas, 2 kilometers of the forest are completely destroyed by the miners," she said in an interview.

The official added that a team of forest rangers has been sent into the affected forests to remove the artisanal miners.

According to her, local governments have been tasked to come up with community policing groups as a sustainable measure to address illegal mining in the forest, which is surrounded by 27 villages.

Asteriko Mahiga, Officer Commanding District (OCD), said so far, six artisanal miners have been arrested for mining in the protected areas.

According to the country’s Mining Act Number 14 of 2010, no one will be allowed to perform any exploration or mining activity without the approval of the authorities.
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 SEPTEMBER 10 - 2017 

Tanzanite mining company under investigation in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian police said on Wednesday two top officials of Sky Associates Limited which owns Tanzanite One Mining Ltd have been transferred from Manyara region to the east African nation’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam for further investigations.

"They were transferred to Dar es Salaam on Monday for further grilling by the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI)," said Francis Massawe, the Manyara regional police commander.

The two officials of Sky Associates Limited have been implicated in the tanzanite mining fraud by two reports on diamonds and tanzanite mining by two by parliamentary investigative committees presented to President John Magufuli last week.

Massawe named the two officials as Faisal Juma Shahbhai and Hussein Gonga.

Massawe further disclosed that they were still pursuing State Mining Corporation (STAMICO), a government owned enterprise also mentioned and implicated in the reports.

The arrest of the officials followed a directive by President Magufuli who had instructed defense and security organs to investigate top officials implicated in the report.

Last week, Tanzanian police chief said they have started investigating senior officials implicated in the two reports by parliamentary investigative committees on diamonds and tanzanite mining.

"After President John Magufuli instructed defence and security organs to immediately start investigating all officers implicated in the reports, we have already arrested some of the officials for interrogation," said the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro.

Magufuli also ordered the suspension of senior officials implicated in the two reports.

"The officials mentioned in the two reports should give way pending the investigations," said Magufuli.

Following the order, the Minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Regional Administration and Local Governments, George Simbachawene and Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Edwin Ngonyani, announced they were stepping down to pave way for investigations.

"The two committees have shown weaknesses in overseeing our natural resources. It is high time all Tanzanians became patriotic in protecting our resources," said Magufuli.

On July 5 the National Assembly formed a nine-man investigative team to assess how Tanzania was benefiting from diamond mining.

The investigative team looked at regulation, ownership and diamond mining, said Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai.

He said the team drawing Members of Parliament from the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi and the opposition camp worked for 30 days before submitting its report.

In June, Magufuli suspended issuance of new mining licenses to investors until after the government reorganized itself.

In May this year, he sacked Minister for Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo after a report showed he was implicated in mining firms’ undeclared mineral sand exports.

The report revealed that the undeclared mineral sand exports led to tax evasion by the mining firms.

Magufuli said the report revealed that mining firms, including Acacia Mining, cheated over mineral sand exports for smelting abroad, making the east African nation to lose millions of U.S. dollars.

The president also dissolved the Tanzania Mineral Audit Agency (TMAA) Board of Directors and suspended the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Rwekaza, for what he termed as negligence.

For his part, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Palamagamba Kabudi, said the agreements reached during the negotiations were in keeping with the new mining laws approved by Parliament in July, this year.

"Efforts pioneered by President Magufuli have started to bare fruits.

"This is a great step for our country, a lesson as well for other nations," said Kabudi.

"We have agreed to have a 50-percent-share of revenues between the government and Acacia Mining from all its mines," added Kabudi who headed Tanzanian delegation to the negotiations.

According to him, the two teams had agreed that the mining firms should shift their headquarters from abroad to Tanzania and all revenues from mining should be deposited in local bank accounts.

"To ensure that the mining sector is well supervised to benefit all Tanzanians, some government officials will be included in the mining firms board of directors," he said.

In March this year, Magufuli announced a temporary ban on exports of metallic mineral concentrates and immediately formed two committees, which recommended a permanent ban on the same after accusing Acacia of illegally operating in the country and evading tax.

The move made Thornton to fly to Tanzania where he met Magufuli in mid-June and they agreed to engage in negotiations to resolve the disputes.
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FURTHER READING:

COMPANY STATEMENT: Acacia confirms that North Mara Gold Mine Ltd, the operator of the
Mine, has received verbal notice from the Government of Tanzania (“GoT”) that it is to be issued
with an Environmental Protection Order (“EPO”) in relation to alleged historical breaches.

             

 

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