Tanzania to Add Gold to Reserves, Resume $3 Billion Iron Project

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Tanzania launched a new gold refinery as its central bank plans to start buying the metal to diversify its reserves.

The Mwanza Precious Metal Refinery Ltd. is able to process 480 kilogrammes of gold per day, and plans to double the capacity in a few months, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said in a televised speech on Sunday.

The nation’s State Mining Corporation has a 25% stake in the project, while Dubai-based Rozella General Trading LLC and Singapore’s ACME Consultant Engineers PTE Ltd. own the rest.

Establishing the refinery is part of the government’s plan to add value locally from its resources. Tanzania vies with Mali as Africa’s third-largest gold producer. It also has an estimated 57 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

Hassan said the government wants to raise the contribution of mining to Tanzania’s gross domestic product to 10% by 2025 from the current 6.7%.

The president asked her administration to fast-track the revival of a $3 billion joint venture with China’s Sichuan Hongda Co. for an iron ore and coal mine. The deal was signed in 2011 but implementation has stalled partly due to government bureaucracy and delays from the investor, Hassan said.

Hassan asked the central bank to work with commercial banks to lower borrowing rates to around 10% from as high as 20%. It should also study cryptocurrencies to be ready when the digital currencies gain popularity in the country, she said.

“Many countries, including Tanzania, have not accepted these currencies,” Hassan said. “However, I would like to urge the central bank to look into these developments so that we are not caught unaware.”