Tribunal upholds ban on concentrate exports

Tuesday April 23 2019


By James Magai

Dar es Salaam. The Tax Revenue Appeals Board (Trab) has upheld the government’s decision to ban the export of mineral concentrates by Bulyanhulu Gold Mine Limited (BGM).

The government banned exports of mineral concentrates and ores for metallic minerals such as gold, copper, nickel and silver in March, 2017, saying the decision was meant to ensure that Tanzania gets it rightful share of proceeds from large-scale mining. BMG had 104 containers destined for export at Dar es Salaam Port when the ban was announced. The government withheld the containers through the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

The mining firm formally filed an appeal against the decision at Trab on November 29, 2017.

BGM argued that the containers were already at the port, and could be exported in line with the law, and that they were being withheld illegally.

But in its judgment, a copy of which was distributed to interested parties last Thursday, Trab ruled in favour of TRA. The verdict was delivered by former Trab chairman Cyprian Mkeha, who has since been appointed judge of the High Court of Tanzania.

Represented by advocate Juma Beleko, TRA argued that it acted within the confines of the law and its mandate by withholding the containers.


Trab ruled that the Minerals Act, 2010 and its subsequent regulations prohibit the export of minerals without the relevant permits.

According to Trab, BGM did not provide proof that it had acquired the relevant permits for exporting the concentrates in question.

The tribunal ruled that under the East African Community Customs Management, the TRA commissioner general has the authority to prohibit the exportation of goods. It added that the decision to withhold the concentrates was thus legal, and that the appeal was null and void.

According to the judgment, the bone of contention between the two parties dates back to March 3, 2017 when the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (which has since been disbanded and split into two ministries) banned exports of mineral concentrates and ores for metallic minerals such as gold, copper, nickel and silver.

In July 2017, a total of 104 containers belonging BGM were impounded by TRA, whose commissioner general issued a number of reasons for their seizure.

The reasons included providing false information, which did not include minerals such as rhodium, iridium sulphur, tantalum, iron, lithium and beryllium, which were said to be part of the concentrates that were destined for export.

TRA also argued that the gold miner did not declare the actual value of the concentrates.

The TRA commissioner general directed BGM to provide further details about the concentrates that were destined for export.