Tanzania overview


As a mining company determines the best course for its CSR initiatives in Tanzania, it is important to consider the existing issues the country and its various regions face today. A number of current, as well as longer-term concerns are highlighted here, in hopes they can help existing and future operators in avoiding missteps while developing a successful CSR program.

For additional information on major issues in Tanzania, please consult the Background Section.

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Water quality and usage

Water supply and quality are areas of major concern in Tanzania. As part of the UN Development Programme’s Millennium Development Goals, the impact of unsustainable mining activities on water quality was highlighted as a major problem.

Tanzania's renewable water supply is estimated to be 91 cubic kilometres, as contrasted with Canada’s supply of 3 300 cubic kilometres. Almost 90% of the country’s annual water consumption is associated with agricultural activity. The heavy focus on agriculture coupled with limited availability of water sources has been at the root of a number of conflicts between local residents and mining companies. In the case of the Lendanai village, the operator secured an exploration license for, and fenced off, an area containing a water source and reserve tank used by up to 40 000 head of cattle of the Maasai cattle herds.

More recently, the North Mara mine, owned by Barrick Gold, has been implicated in contamination of the Tigithe river with runoff from a containment pond. Barrick’s environmental experts, dispatched after the company was contacted by local residents, found the water pH levels to measure 4.8, nearly ten times the acidity of regular rainwater. In response to criticism from local communities and international NGOs, Barrick stated that the PVC lining insulating the sides of the pond has been repeatedly cut and stolen, to be sold as roofing material in the local villages.

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Chemical contamination

Despite the repairs Barrick workers have performed on the containment pond, the mine has remained in the public eye: a study by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the University of Dar es Salaam found dangerously high levels of arsenic in the terrain around the tailings dam, and the site of an accidental chemical spill, dating back to May 9, 2009. The Christian Council of Tanzania, one of the groups that commissioned the report, further stated that following the May 2009 spill, 203 people became ill, 43 had died, and 1358 livestock had also died due to the chemical exposure. At the time the water samples were collected, four to seven months after the spill, the study reported arsenic concentrations ranging from 111 µg/L to 1142 µg/L – an order of magnitude greater than the current WHO standard of 10 µg/L for drinking water to be considered safe.

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