Tanzania is set to become Africa’s third largest gold producer (after South Africa and Ghana) next year, producing over one million ounces following the opening of a third modern large scale gold mine later this year, says Tanzania Chamber of Mines Chairman Samuel Lwakatare, quoted in the Guardian. With two modem mines already in operation, revenues from gold production skyrocketed to 184 million dollars (about Shs 147,888m) last year compared with 3.3 million dollars in 1998. Canada’s Barrick Gold is set to open the country’s first underground gold mine in July in the northwestern Bulyanhulu, Kahama District, with annual production forecast at 400,000 ounces. The mine, sitting on gold reserves of 10 million ounces, will operate alongside Australian Resolute’s Golden Pride Mine whose annual production is around 202,000 ounces, and the Geita gold mine – a joint venture between Ghana’s Ashanti Goldfields and South Africa’s Anglogold. The Geita mine which began official production last August is Africa’s second largest gold mine with annual production estimated to total 500,000 ounces.
Lwakatare explained that Tanzania’s mining development stalled after the country adopted socialism soon after independence in 1961. Production declined to an all time low of 84 ounces in 1975 against a peak of 100,000 ounces in 1938 under British rule. But a new mining act in 1998 opened the sector up to foreign investment and that policy is now bearing fruit, with Tanzania attracting many investors. Some 300 licences have been issued to mining companies while investment in gold exploration since 1998 is estimated at $870 million. The government aims for mining to contribute 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025 compared with 2% in 1998. Another gold mine operated by Afrika Mashariki with annual production estimated at 140,000 ounces is expected to open in 2000 Lwakatare said. “Other prospects in Geita, around the Lake Victoria greenstone belt are promising,” he added. Lwakatare said an evaluation project for nickel, cobalt and copper deposits in northwestern Kabanga district by Barrick Gold had proved successful. “There’s every possibility that if things remain correct, there’s potential for a big base metal mine opening soon,” he said, adding that exploration for copper and lead was also going on in the south near Lake Malawi.