Mining landscape in Tanzania is booming - government opens markets

Posted on :Wednesday , 11th July 2018

Mining in Tanzania includes precious metals such as gold, iron ore, nickel, copper, cobalt, silver. Mining of industrial minerals like diamond, tanzanite, ruby, garnet, limestone, soda ash, gypsum, salt, phosphate, gravel, sand, dimension stones and lately graphite are also among the more interesting in the export market. Fuel minerals like coal and uranium are also being mined. Mining related activities in Tanzania have contributed 3.7% to its GDP valued at USD 1.78bn in 2014. This when compared to USD 598m in 2009, represents an increase of almost 200%. 

Based on government estimates and forecasting, the mining sector is expected to contribute upto 10% of the GDP if not more by 2025. Estimated to be valued at USD 1.37bn of the total figure of Tanzanian exports in 2015 approximately 24% with gold  accounts in the upwards of 90% of the country’s minerals export. The total value of Tanzania’s diamonds exports was USD 61.7m, while other minerals export accounted for USD 61.7m. South Africa, India, Switzerland and Australia are the traditional buyers of Tanzanian gold while diamonds are exported almost entirely to Luxembourg. 

Tanzanian gold reserves are estimated at about 45m ounces and multiple credible explorations have been concentrated mostly on the greenstone belts around Lake Victoria, where several large deposits have already been discovered and are being consequentially being developed. Gold production in Tanzania stands at around 50t per year which makes the country the 4th largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa, Ghana, and Mali. In stark contrast and indicating a bright future,Tanzania’s gold production increased by more than 700% over the past 25 years, from 5t to 50t per year, South Africa’s production of gold decreased from over 500t in 1990 to 140t in 2015. 

Tanzanian iron ore reserves are located mainly in Liganga, Uluguru Mountains, Mbabala near Lake Tanganyika, Karema, Manyoro Gondite and Itewe. The Liganga mine is known to hold the biggest iron resources in Tanzania with proven reserves of 126mt.

Tanzania China International Mineral Resources Ltd (TCIMRL) has announced investments to the tune of USD 1.8bn at Liganga for the establishment of iron ore mine and an iron and steel complex with an aim to produce 1.0mt per year of iron and steel products, vanadium pentoxide and titanium dioxide. The Liganga project is expected to start operation by 2018–2019. Accordingly Tanzania’s commercial production and exports of iron are set to start in 2018–2019. 

Tanzanian Diamonds are found mainly in the Williamson diamond mine, which is located south of the town Mwanza.  Williamson Diamonds Limited a subsidiary of Petra Diamonds holds 75% of the ownership rights over the mine, while the remaining 25% is owned by the Government of Tanzania. In 2015, the company produced 202,265 carats and plans to increase its production to 350,000 carats per annum by end of 2018. According to sources, the Williamson mine contains large diamond resources of approximately 38.1m carats. Tanzania produces a variety of gemstones, including amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite and tourmaline. Interestingly, Tanzanite is found at only one location in the world, the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania. The production of the rare mineral increased by 17% during the period 2008–2013, from 768t to 900t, while documented reserves are close to 500m carats. 

Fuel based minerals primarily coal reserves are estimated at 1.9bn t, 25% of which are proven. The Tanzanian coalfields with the highest estimated potentials are Ketawaka-Mchuchuma in the Ruhuhu Basin, Ngaka fields in the South-West of Tanzania and Songwe Kiwira fields. Coal is mined in a small scale at Kiwira Coal Mine in Mbeya Region and Tancoal Energy Limited Mine at Ngaka in Ruvuma Region. Production of bituminous coal increased significantly during the 2010–2013 period, from 179t to 128,920t. Tanzania has also discovered huge deposits of uranium mainly in Namtumbo (Mkuju), Bahi, Galapo, Minjingu, Mbulu, Simanjiro, Lake Natron, Manyoni, Songea, Tunduru, Madaba and Nachingwea. On the forefront of the Tanzanian uranium development projects is the Mkuju River Project, currently under  Russia’s Uranium One Inc.,  the project maintains an active status since research and preparatory operations are under way. Russian sources says that the Russian company hopes to begin operating the Mkuju River uranium mine in late 2018.

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