DAR ES SALAAM, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Small-scale miners in Tanzania on Tuesday appealed to the government to lift its ban on exports of copper concentrates, saying the ban was hurting their mining business.
"The government ban imposed on exports of copper concentrates could lead to closure of our mining business caused by lack of revenue we used to get from the sale of the copper concentrates," said Thobias Rweyemamu, Chairman of the Tanzania Small-Scale Miners Association.
Last week, Tanzanian President John Magufuli banned exports of copper concentrates by mining companies and told the miners to construct smelters in the country to boost mining revenue to the government.
The ban was likely to cause negative social and economic consequences on both small-scale miners and the nation at large, Rweyemamu told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
"We are appealing to the government to think outside the box and rescue the small-scale miners from incurring huge losses," said Rweyemamu.
He said the government should at the moment allow mining companies to continue exporting the copper concentrates for smelting abroad until arrangement were made to acquire a smelter for processing the concentrates locally.
Tanzanian Members of Parliament on Monday expressed concerns that the east African country could be sued in international courts after imposing the ban on exports of copper concentrates for smelting abroad.
Last week, the government seized 262 containers ferrying copper concentrates which were to be exported abroad.
But some MPs meeting in the political capital Dodoma ready for the marathon budget session that begins next month expressed fears that the ban could backfire.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Job Ndugai, said on Sunday parliament will review mining contracts with foreign firms aimed at improving proper documentation of exported copper concentrates for the benefit of the country.
Ndugai said a report on the review of the mining contracts will be submitted to the government as a guideline that will help to closely monitor and improve proper documentation of exported copper concentrates for the benefit of the country.
Last week, Tanzanian President John Magufuli visited the Dar es Salaam port and ordered the seizure of 20 containers ferrying copper concentrates from the same mining firm.
On Sunday, President Magufuli sacked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Justin Ntalikwa, apparently in connection with the copper concentrates exports.
Deusdedit Kakoko, Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Director General, said more than 50,000 containers with copper concentrates move out of the country every year.
Kakoko said since the country passed laws to allow the exportation of copper concentrates in 1998, over one million containers with copper concentrates have left the country.