The government has assured investors wishing to come to Tanzania that mining of niobium in one of the country’s biggest regions of Mbeya which was halted for several years is expected to start any time soon, as it finalizes talks with an investor.
The Minerals Ministry is expected to provide suggestions and guidelines for implementation of the project which is under the Panda Hill Tanzania Ltd (PHT).
The company owns three mining licenses—ML 237/2006, ML 238/2006 and ML 239/2006, all issued in November 16, 2006. The licensed mining projects cover a combined area of approximately 22.1 square kilometers.
The ministry stated that following review of the new Mining Act in 2017, an investor was forced to review some of the provisions in the feasibility study report to ensure a win-win situation between the company and the government, specifically on payments of royalties, taxes and shareholding.
The country’s mining laws of 1979, 1998 and 2010 had no provisions for renegotiations to strike a win-win situation.
However, the investor has re-submitted a project proposal requesting for clarification on a number of sections in the Mining Act in 2017, as well as his suggestions on how to implement the mining project.
The ministry noted that issues of compensation to people who will be forced to relocate have yet been resolved. The investor will also have to compensate the Mbeya Prison for a portion of its land which will be taken by PHT.
According to the feasibility study which was completed in April 2016, the companies could have conducted mining activities for 30 years.
The mined mineral—niobium could be improved to Ferro-Niobium which has markets in Northern America, Europe and Asia. Niobium is used with iron and other elements in stainless steel alloys and also in alloys with a variety of metals.
The metal is used in super alloys for jet engines and heat resistant equipment.
The ministry’s explanations were in response to a question from Mbeya-Rural Member of Parliament, Oran Njeza (CCM).
The law maker wanted to know when exactly the niobium mining project in Mbeya district would start.