NECM Director General, Dr. Samuel Gwamaka, stresses a point recently as he inspects North Mara Gold Mine’s Tailings Storage Facility. TSF has been leaking contaminated water, and Dr Gwamaka ordered the gold mine to cease operations at the TSF until the seepages were under control (photo by Jacob Mugini)
The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has halted the use of Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) at North Mara Gold Mine until such time as the mine contains and prevents seepage and leakages.
It is feared that the seepage is harmful to human health, livestock and water sources.
“The health of our people is more important than anything,” said NEMC Director General, Dr. Samuel Gwamaka, when speaking to journalists recently after issuing instructions to halt operations at TSF at North Mara Gold Mine.
“We have halted the use of the TSF and instructed the mining company to stop the leakages or build up a new facility so as to protect the environment and people’s health,” Dr Gwamaka said.
He said that it is imperative for the gold mining company to preserve the environment while they continue production of gold.
Dr. Gwamaka, who was accompanied by officers from the Mineral Commission and National Chemist Office, said that NEMC will not tolerate any acts violating environmental laws.
“For example, experts took samples from the sterling storage facility in September last year and February, March, May and June this year, with all the samples indicating poisonous content,” he said.
A representative from the Government Chief Chemist Office, Mr. Boniventure Masambu, lamented the presence of poison in all the samples tested. “We are glad to see that our advice has been taken seriously and implemented by the responsible authority,” he said. He added that environment conservation is crucial to protect people from health risks.
North Mara Gold Mine Acting Manager, Mr Reuben Ngusaro, promised to follow through: “We will work on the instructions, because we care for the environment and people’s health,” Mr Ngusaro said.
In May of this year, NEMC fined the gold mine 5.6 billion shillings for breaching environmental laws associated with the effluent leakages.
North Mara is just one of the gold mines operated by Acacia Mining in Tanzania.
Dr Gwamaka made it clear that the presence of gold mines offers multiple economic benefits, but that its operations must not also be allowed to harm the environment or human health.
He also advised the mining firm to construct a new TSF that will be free from seepage leakages.C