North Mara Gold Mine

North Mara Gold Mine

Tarime — A total of 41 councillors from Tarime district in Mara Region were recently given a familiarization tour of the North Mara Gold Mine and had been impressed by the mine’s efforts in preventing leakages of harmful chemicals into water sources and people’s residences.

“The tour was meant to help the councillors learn environmental issues at the mine and the councillors were satisfied with measures taken to preserve the environment in the area,” Tarime District Executive Director (DED), Mr Fidelis Lumato, said.The councillors made the tour a few days ago and were accompanied by a section of senior government officials from Tarime district.

They also witnessed a water treatment plant that has been keenly set up to contain acidic water emerging from the mine pits, according to Mr Lumato.The visitors also hailed initiatives made by the current management to speed up social and economic development in the local surrounding communities.

The mine has already given Nyakunguru and Matongo villages 100,000 US dollars each and discussions are also underway to enable two more villages get 4bn/- to speed up social and economic development in the areas, said the DED.

At the moment the mine uses a water bowser to supply 90,000 litres of clean and safe water to hundreds of villagers free of charge every day. “This project started in August last year it has cost over 86m/- until December,” the mine’s Community Affairs Department stated in it’s latest report.The mine has also drilled 16 boreholes in a bid to improve water supply in neghbouring villages in recent months.

“The aim is to drill six boreholes in every village and this is a three years programme that will cost over 3bn/-,” the report stated.The councillor for Kibasuka ward, Mr Suleimani Moya, however, recommended the formation of a team that will visit all villages surrounding the mine to verify whether the report presented to them by the mine was true.

The villages include Nyangoto, Nyamwaga, Nyakunguru, Genkuru, and Kewanja.”We have realised that the mine is doing everything possible to show that it is performing well but we need a team of councillors to verify the reality on the ground,” Mr Moya said .

Mrs Loyce Manyata, a special seats councillor accused the mine for allegedly taking so long to compensate villagers who are to relocate from mining areas.She also wanted construction of new houses for relocated families to be pursued with seriousness.

“Evaluation has already been done but the mine has been taking too long to compensate money and houses for affected families are not built on time,” she said.Another councillor, Ms Philomena Marwa, challenged the mine to come up with projects that will help to boost income of ordinary people in the area in a bid to improve their livelihoods.

The mine has been operating for the past 17 years but we are yet to see significant changes. “It is time now for ordinary people to start enjoying the benefits of having a mine instead of just a few people who get tenders from the mine,” she said.

In 2009 North Mara Gold Mine received notoreity after it was alleged that the mine had been releasing harmful chemivcals into River Tigithe and people’s residencies.Around 21 civilians and over 200 livestock were reported to have died after allegedly consuming contaminated water with harmful toxins that leaked from the mine.

The report prompted a parliamentary committee that comprised of three cabinet ministers to visit the villages to get to the bottom of the matter.But in July last year the National Environmental Management Council(NEMC) revealed that dozens of villagers living near the mine were affected by minerals from water sources and not toxins from the mine as it was widely reported by local and international media.

By Mugini Jacob, Tanzania Daily News

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