An underground mining tunnel. File picture: Hangela/Pixabay
An underground mining tunnel. File picture: Hangela/Pixabay

Tanzania finalising permits to mine rare earth minerals

By Bloomberg Time of article published Nov 5, 2020

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By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala

Tanzania is in the final stages of approving a permit for the country's first rare-earths mine to Australian company Peak Resources as the government seeks a bigger share of revenue from natural resources.

The state is also finalizing a gold-mining license for another Australian company, OreCorp at the Nyanzaga project in the northwest of the country, according to Mining Minister Doto Biteko.

The East African nation is Africa's fourth-biggest producer of the precious metal and plans to increase mineral earnings by at least a third during the next three years. It also has vast deposits of coal, rare-earth metals, iron ore and gemstones.

"The government is in the final stages of awarding a special mining license to PR NG Minerals for it's Ngualla Rare Earth Project," Biteko said in an emailed response to questions. The company is a subsidiary of Australia-listed Peak Resources.

Rare earths are used in components for electric vehicles, smartphones, renewable energy equipment and defence applications.

Gold mining, now Tanzania's leading foreign-exchange earner, is recovering following a slump after a crackdown on smuggling and a drawn-out dispute between the government and a unit of Barrick Gold froze exports.

The government intends to increase mining revenue to 701.1 billion shillings in 2023-24, from a projected 526.7 billion shillings in the current fiscal period. Tanzania will "increase revenues from the mining sector by 33%" by boosting production and exports, curbing smuggling and ensuring closer supervision of the industry, Biteko said.

Last month the government received its first cash dividend of $40 million from a 16% stake in a joint venture with Barrick. Tanzania plans to use the Barrick partnership as a model when negotiating joint-ownership deals with all major mining companies, including with AngloGold Ashanti, in line with mining laws passed in 2017, he said.

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