Small scale miners have asked the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to address conflicts that occur between them and large scale miners by allocating permanent mining areas for artisanal mining.
Speaking at a meeting organised by the ministry here at weekend to discuss ways on how to improve their activities, George Mwaikela from Mbeya Region said lack of permanent areas for the artisanal miners is a big challenge facing them.
He said most of the mineral rich areas are in the hands of the large scale miners leaving them with poor and no permanent areas to conduct their activities.
“As a result, we have witnessed an increased number of conflicts between small scale miners and the large ones fighting for the ever decreasing land. This is not good for the development of the economy,” he said.
In order to avoid such disagreements, he said, the government should conduct a countrywide land survey and allocate specific areas for small scale miners.
Filbert Sanga from Katavi Region urged the government to revoke licences of large scale miners who have failed to conduct mining activities for a long time.
“There are many areas in our regions which are owned by large scale miners who do not develop them. It is high time the government repossessed them and allocated the same to small scale miners,” he said.
For his part, Jafar Mohammed from Biharamulo District in Kagera Region told the government to extend the land tenure period from the current five to ten years.
He said five years is not enough since mining activities involve a lot of costs and activities that need longer time to recover the invested money.
Mohammed also asked the government to explain who the beneficiaries of the budget allocated to small scale miners are.
The chairperson of Tanzania Women Miners Association (Tawoma), Eunice Negele, criticising the entire system of issuing licence to small scale miners said the responsible ministry should collaborate with the zonal mineral offices to identify small scale miners and henceforth issue them with licences.
“More education should be provided to local government leaders who do not have mining ideas and encourage them not to harass small scale miners,” she added.
For his part, Energy and Minerals minister Prof Sospeter Muhongo, said the government has started to address all the challenges facing small scale miners in the country.
He said it has consented that lack of mining areas for small scale miners is the major problem in many areas.
“We have started to take action at the ministerial level where some officials have already allocated huge areas have been told to return them to the government,” he said.
The government has increased the budget from 2.5bn/- in 2011/12 to 8.9bn/- this year to support small scale miners.
According to the ministry’s Medium Term Strategic Plan 2012-2016, although the government has taken efforts to provide extension services to small scale miners, small scale mining is still underdeveloped due to the use of inappropriate technology and lack of capital.
The government promised to continue supporting small scale miners through provision of supportive extension services and establishment of mechanisms for accessing capital.
The meeting agreed to come up with strategic plans which would see that there is improved livelihood for small scale miners in near future.