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Tanzania President asks mines minister to resign after audit


Tanzania President asks mines minister to resign after audit

Tanzania President asks mines minister to resign after audit
Photo credit: ABB

Tanzanian President John Magufuli asked Mines Minister Sospeter Muhongo to resign after an audit of containers of mineral sands showed exports had been understated.

An investigation initiated by Magufuli in March found that 277 containers held as much as 15.5 metric tons of gold, instead of the 1.1 tons that had been declared, the president said Wednesday in a speech broadcast live on state television. Magufuli also disbanded the Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency’s board, fired its chief executive officer and asked authorities to investigate those responsible.

“I really like Professor Muhongo and he is a friend of mine, but on this he needs to rethink and reassess without delay,” Magufuli said after receiving an audit of the containers seized at the port of Dar es Salaam in March. “I’d like him to resign.”

The containers, which had mineral sands from mines including Buzwagi, were located at a privately run terminal and awaiting customs procedures before being shipped overseas. Tanzania is Africa’s third-biggest gold producer, with companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Acacia Mining Plc extracting the metal.

Acacia, which owns the Buzwagi mine, dropped as much as 17 percent to 360.40 pence at 11:22 a.m. in London, the biggest intra-day decline since March 3. The company said it declares fully everything of commercial value and pays appropriate royalties and taxes.

Ban Remains

A ban on unprocessed metals effective March 2 should remain in place, according to the eight-member committee that carried out the investigation. The government should also construct a smelter as soon as possible, it recommended.

“The government should retain the minerals export ban until royalties reflective of the full value of the sands have been paid in full,” said Abdulkarim Mruma, the committee chairman.

The containers held as much as six tons of copper instead of the four tons declared and had many unrecorded minerals including iridium, iron and zinc, Magufuli said.

“We have been given all these natural resources, but we are giving them away for free,” he said. “This pains me a lot. It’s embarrassing.”

Magufuli has also ordered a separate probe into mineral exports over the past 19 years. That report will be ready soon, he said.


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