Tanzania is set to earn more from its gold once the first refinery is completed in the country’s administrative capital Dodoma in the next six weeks.
The gold refinery is currently more than 80 per cent complete, and the first trial is set for October 25.
According to Prince Mgisha, the chief operating officer of Eyes of Africa Ltd, a Serbian mining company that owns the refinery, the plant will cost $15 million and will process raw gold produced in over 19 regions in Tanzania and neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After decades of exporting raw gold, Tanzania will now export the refined product and earn more from the value addition.
“As Africa's fourth-largest gold producer, this is a huge step for our country and economy,” said Dotto Biteko, Tanzania’s Minister for Minerals during a recent media tour of the refinery.
The Bank of Tanzania plans to run a gold reserve with locally-refined stock in a bid to tap into the business potential of the Dodoma gold refinery. The refinery is also expected to create employment opportunities for locals.
The gold refinery is expected to have a production capacity of minimum 40 kilogrammes of refined gold per day, processed from almost one tonne of gold ore, according to Mr Mgisha.
He also cited benefits for artisanal and small-scale miners in the country who will be able to have their gold refined and use it as collateral to get loans from banks.
“Artisanal and small-scale miners in the country have suffered from a lack of loans, capital and poor investment, but this is about to change,” said Mr Mgisha, adding that when the price of gold goes up, the same gold used as collateral for loans could still be sold for a higher price.
There are about 28 mineral trading centres in operation around the country. Statistics show that an average of 20kg of gold is traded per day per mineral hub.
“Geita on average trades between 20kgs- 24kgs of gold per day,” said Awadhi Hafidhi, a gold dealer in Chunya.
Acacia Mining Plc’s Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines produce around 50,000 tonnes of gold and copper concentrate per year.
Earlier this year, President John Magufuli ordered the central bank to create a gold reserve to supplement national reserves and also enforce control on mineral exports.
President Magufuli has locked horns with foreign mining companies for his radical regulation of the country's mining sector. He accused mining firms of fraud and underreporting of production and profits, thus denying the country revenue from its resources.
The government has enforced tougher rules on the mineral sector, even going as far as constructing a 24km perimeter wall with surveillance cameras around the mines in Mirerani, Manyara regions to stop smuggling of gemstones. It also banned the export of gold and copper concentrates.
Tanzania has been described as a sleeping economic giant because of its vast deposits of gold, tin, nickel, iron, copper, zinc, lead, diamonds and uranium; tanzanite, coal and industrial minerals such as soda, kaolin, gypsum, and phosphate.