DAR ES SALAAM-- In a move to continue tightening loopholes in the mining sector, Tanzania will soon start auctioning its diamond in the country, as plans are now underway to establish an auction centre, the government has said.

Speaking to the press, Deputy Minister of Minerals, Dotto Biteko said the government hopes that the establishment of the auction centre at local settings will attract buyers from various corners of the world to Tanzania.

Currently, the auctioning of the precious gemstones is done in Antwerp, Belgium, a trend that denies the government of its rightful revenues.

Some buyers in the country have expressed interest and we believe such a move will also draw major global diamond buyers, increase foreign currency as well as publicise the availability of such mineral in the country, he said.

Biteko noted that on Feb 2-9, the third diamond auction was conducted in which Williamson Diamond Limited, a company that operates at Mwadui in Shinyanga, produced 54,094.47 carats of diamond that fetched 13.72 million US dollars (over 30bn/-) at the Antwerp auction.

According to him, the consignment was transported to Antwerp in Belgium, accompanied by government officials for auctioning and the total revenue that the government collected in terms of royalties and inspection fees from the sales amounted to about 2bn/-.

The Deputy Minister said that before the consignment was ferried to the market in Belgium, it underwent initial evaluation process involving government officials, getting a provisional value of 1bn/-.

Biteko further said the success recorded in handling the diamond cargo resulted from the implementation of the new law on mining which has increased royalties from five to seven per cent.

The new law also imposed a one per cent inspection fee payable from the total market value of the cargo. Petra owns 75 per cent stake in Williamson Diamonds, while Tanzanian government owns 25 per cent.

Meanwhile, Biteko said that as the wall built around the Tanzanite Mirerani was complete by 98 per cent and from Feb 19 National Identification Authority (NIDA) in collaboration with his ministry will commence issuing national identification cards to residents in the area.

This exercise is aimed at ensuring that anyone entering the area has a national identification card as there is one main entry and exit gate, which is installed with high-tech facilities to detect hidden gemstones, he noted.

On concerns from residents in the area for the government to add another entrance, he said they have already agreed with them that for control purposes one entrance will be used and not otherwise.

On Sept 20, last year, President John Magufuli directed the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) through the National Service, to build a wall around Tanzanite Blocks A to D at Mirerani mines and install high-tech equipment to monitor mining activities, so that the government can earn proper revenue.

The Deputy Minister also said following amendments to The Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2017 and following the signing of the mining regulations in 2018, mineral export permits will be acquired from the mining commissioner.

He said permits will be requested from the regional level so stakeholders of the mining sector are urged to consider this process in requesting export permits.