Reduction of conflicts: Good story for North Mara Gold Mine

By Guest Writer

The era of conflicts between mining centres and surrounding communities is slowly becoming a thing of the past as shown by the classical example of the existing warm relations between the North Mara Gold Mine and neighbouring villages.

Gone are the days when disgruntled people used to invade the North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime district with intent to steal or to commit other heinous crimes without considering that the mine was a saviour to their lives.

In the past there were ugly scenes when some discontented villagers near the mine raided its premises just to show their anger against the investors in the mining industry.

Today, however, there are positive stories originating fromNyamongo and other villages that significantdisputes and conflicts which used to surface among mining industry stakeholders, host communities, as well as local government authorities, have greatly been reduced. Indeed, this is a positive development worthy of emulation.

Today, North Mara Gold Mine and neighbouring villages have grown in importance to each other as economic partners. What the villagers acknowledge is that the mine is linked to their destiny by the opportunities it offers for socio-economic development.

Fortunately, the government has aligned the various policies and laws, and created a suitable framework that links all sectors related to mineral exploration and extraction. “All stakeholders will be losers if gold production ceases. In the same vein, all are jointly winners if production is made profitable in the common interest of everybody,” as a reputed researcher, Dr. FurahaLugoe, says in his research on ‘Governance in Mining Areas in Tanzania with Special Reference to Land Issues”.

In recent years, the mining sector has rejuvenated the national economy in which gold occupies a major share; and has increased its share of tax revenueto the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Decision-making in the mining sector involves several actors at different levels, villagers who get displaced by mining rights holders, small-scale miners, large scale miners, local government at Village and District levels, Central Government involving policy makers and government operatives, Private Sector Service providers, Civil Society Organizations (CSO) including Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and non- Governmental organizations (NGO).

For the Tarime villagers near North Mara Gold Mine they enjoy the social-economic benefits provided by the mine such as employment and the support to improve social services and infrastructure.

The gold mine has now become part and parcel of neighbourhood approach and intensified interaction – yet another dimension of mutual coexistence. The partnership between North Mara and the villages has reinforced the ideal of unity in diversity and variety in human kind.

It is upon the Tarime villagers near the mine to uphold these values in their struggle for socio-economic development and laying the foundation for coming generations to reap what their forebears sowed in tears.

A vigorous sustained educational campaign must continue on creating harmonious relations between the villagers and the gold mine authorities as demonstrated by the decline of disputes and conflicts in the area.

The villagers should understand that mining has the potential to become the main source of the country’s foreign direct investment, can become a major a foreign exchange earner by generating new forms of exports and reduce dependence on Tanzania’s traditional economic activity, agriculture, which is the mainstay of the national economy.

The message here is clear: That communities around mining centres must define their own development path taking into account the socio-economic support they get from the mining companies. The catch phrase of their vocabulary should always be ‘mutual co-existence’.

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