Tanzania’s mining sector to relax protectionist regulations

Miners have welcomed the amendment, saying it will make the mining industry vibrant.
Gold mine processing ore at Meremeta Tanzania. Biosphoto / Mark Boulton

Mining sector regulations that require Tanzanian local companies to own controlling stakes in multinationals, have been relaxed. Once seen as ambitious, the 2018 Mining Sector Regulations required Tanzanian companies to have at least 51 per cent stake in mining firms while multinationals were required to partner with their locally owned institutions.

The regulations and the Mining Act amendments, which were part of mineral sector reforms, were meant to give the government a bigger share of the mining sector pie.

Additionally, they sought to boost the participation of Tanzanian nationals and firms in multinationals’ operations. But a year later, further amendments have seen procedural ownership percentage reduced to 20 per cent. Analysts say that Tanzania, though endowed with abundant minerals, still feels little impact on its revenue collection.

The new Mining (Local Content) (Amendments) Regulations, 2019 reduced ownership restriction for local mining firms and financial institutions’ preference. Indigenous Tanzanian companies, under the amended regulations, now have to own a minimum 20 per cent equity.

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Miners have welcomed the amendment, saying it will make the mining industry vibrant. “Many local companies, be they contractors, sub contractors, licensees, do not have the capital and capacity needed to bring about development in the mining activities,” said Mbwaike Mahyenga one of the miners in Mwanza.

“As much as we find it hard to admit that we run short in that respect, things such as machinery are expensive for some local companies.” The Mining Regulations on Local Content (2019), which came into effect on February 8, opened the gates for more local commercial banks to participate in mining activities.

The new regulations slightly reduced the stringent banking requirements, as not many banks operating in Tanzania fall under the definition of “indigenous Tanzanian banks.” Keeping the local content spirit as previous regulations, the Mining Regulations on Local Content (2019) still affects international banks like Barclays, Standard Chartered Plc, Stanbic Bank and First National Bank Tanzania Ltd — which is 100 per cent owned by the First Rand Group — a large financial services provider based in South Africa. Other banks are KCB Bank, Commercial Bank of Africa and Access Bank Plc.

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Economists say that it is a welcome move since the new regulations will allow more local banks, which are not wholly Tanzanian-owned to provide services to the sector. Before the new rule, mining firms were allowed to have bank accounts abroad and repatriate some of their profits, which the government felt was weakening the local currency.

The calls for changes in the mining laws were partly due to claims that some miners, especially multinationals, were evading tax. The new structure seeks to establish even participation in mining activities by local entities including contractors, subcontractors, insurance companies and financial institutions.

Early last month, parliament of Tanzania approved a Bill designed to relieve small-scale miners of the burden of paying withholding tax of 5 per cent and 18 per cent value added tax, leaving the holders of a
primary licence with a 7 per cent tax obligation only. 

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