The headline to the leading story on page one of The Citizen yesterday was Tanzania, Barrick Gold forge new partnership. In the event, the two parties “agreed to settle all past disputes, and establish a new joint venture, Twiga Minerals Corporation, in which the government of Tanzania will have a 16 per cent stake” – with Barrick holding 84 per cent.
Twiga is ki-Swahili for giraffe: a large fascinating, graceful and usually gentle African mammal, the tallest living creature today. It’s also Tanzania’s chosen national (animal) symbol that’s protected by law.
Hopefully, then, Twiga Minerals Corporation (TMC) will not only be protected by law – symbolising Tanzanian prosperity through general good governance and good practices in the mining sector. TMC will also ensure that the partnership forged between the Tanzania Government and the Canada-based Barrick Gold – the world’s largest gold mining conglomerate – will live to the noblest meaning in letter and spirit of the term ‘forge’: “create something that is successful, strong and enduring” for both parties in win-win mode.
The mining/extractives industry in Tanzania has been beleaguered by assorted challenges – especially following the 1997 Mining Policy and 1998 Mining Act, both of which were inordinately lopsided in favour of investors in mining.
Investors were mostly foreign/multinational conglomerates which benefited from the business very, very much more than Tanzania and Tanzanians did. That was until the fifth-phase government of President John Magufuli smartly stepped in the breach, overhauling the mining regulatory frameworks of yore – much to the chagrin of some of the foreign mining exploiters.
To cut a long story short: TMC is a product of the drastic changes, and it’s our sincere hope that the new developmental wave will spread across the entire sector, making it all hunky-dory.
After all, what’s good for Barrick Gold and Tanzanians should also be good for other investors.