ENERGY and Minerals Ministry will soon meet with African Barrick Gold (ABG) management to find lasting solutions on recurrent conflicts between the Canadian miner and the local communities surrounding North Mara Gold Mine.
Energy and Minerals Deputy Minister Mr Stephen Masele said this during his familiarization tour into the villages located near the mine early this week.“I have been hearing about Nyamongo problems for many years.
I have learnt a lot from you and my task now is to meet ABG officials face to face. I will not meet them at the mine. I will summon them to Dar es salaam or Dodoma,” the deputy minister told a public rally at Kerende village in Tarime district, Mara Region.
He said the ministry will also involve key local leaders from the villages surrounding the mine on the oncoming dialogue with the ABG, which is the leading gold producer in Tanzania.The villagers complained to the Deputy Minister that the mine has failed to support development, artisanal miners and small scale projects in the area among other things.
Mr Masele called for effective strategies that will help to end recurrent conflicts between the mine and thel ocal communities once and for all.He said that the government has started putting in place measures aimed at supporting artisanal miners with skills, technology and capital in a bid to minimize conflicts between large scale miners and local communities.
“We must come up with long term strategies to end these conflicts and there must be good relationship between Barrick and the local communities. I believe Barrick cannot be comfortable to be surrounded by poor people and the position of the government is that we are not ready to continue seeing people being killed at the mine. And even me personally I am not ready to see the killings,”the deputy minister stressed.
Five civilians were shot to death after hundreds of intruders invaded the mine and clashed with anti-riot police in May,last year.
He warned the police force against using excessive force when flushing out intruders from the mine which is located at Nyamongo area in the Northern Tarime district.
He directed Tarime district authorities to furnish his office with all promises that the mine has made to the local communities with immediate effect.“I am aware that the mine has promised to build three new schools, drilling boreholes and other agreements.
We need to know them so that we can make a close follow up and I am a bad person when it comes to following up things,” said Mr Masele, who was appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete to deal with mineral issues in the ministry a few months ago.
The three public schools mentioned by the minister are being relocated by the Canadian investor from the mine to an ideal learning environment that is free from intruders invading the mine and health hazards caused by dust and noise from heavy duty trucks. They are Nyabigena, Nyangoto and Matongo.
There are confirmed reports that the mine has awarded the tender to a local company to execute the multimillion projects which has also been welcomed by Tarime District Education Department.The Canadian miner has also signed another crucial 10 million US dollars (about 16 billion) deal with the neighbouring villages through Village Implementation Benefits Agreement (VIBA) in the recent months.
The signing of VIBA has been hailed by ordinary people, local leaders as well as Tarime district authorities predicting that the move will help to end recurrent conflicts between the mine and the local communities. If implemented as planned, VIBA is expected to see heavy investment on social services delivered in the villages adjacent to the mine, according to local leaders.