Tanzania is abundant in minerals and natural resources, such as gold, diamonds, coal, and natural gas. As of 2021, nearly 500 active licenses explored over 40 types of minerals in the country. Unsurprisingly, mining activities constitute a prominent industry in Tanzania's economy. Mining and quarrying accounted for roughly seven percent of the Tanzanian GDP in 2020. The sector employed more than 310,000 Tanzanians, while the country's earnings with mineral exports surpassed 3.6 billion U.S. dollars.
Gold: a main foreign exchange earner
Gold production in Tanzania ranks as the fourth largest in Africa, just behind South Africa, Ghana, and Sudan. The precious metal is also the main mineral sourced in Tanzanian territory, with the main gold mines concentrated in greenstone belts around Lake Victoria. Large and medium scale producers account for roughly 70 percent of the Tanzanian gold production, which reached nearly 47 metric tons in 2020. Just in the Geita mine, one of the biggest gold mines in Africa, the output stood at 623,000 ounces of gold (around 17.7 metric tons). That same year, gold exports amounted to nearly three billion U.S dollars, making the precious metal Tanzania’s main export item.
Diamonds and other gemstones
Apart from gold, Tanzania's mining industry benefits from substantial gemstones reserves, including diamonds, ruby, and tanzanite - a blue rare gem extracted solely in the country. Gemstone production (excluding diamonds) strongly increased in 2020, reaching nearly 24 thousand metric tons, a growth mainly attributed to a larger activity among small-scale miners. On the other hand, diamonds recorded the lowest output since 2015, in consequence of an interruption in the Williamson mine. This open pit, which accounts for over 90 percent of Tanzania's diamond production, is also one of the largest and oldest diamond mines in Africa. From April 2020 till the second half of 2021, the Williamson mine was placed on maintenance to preserve its liquidity.
The untapped potential of energy fuels
Opportunities in Tanzania's extractive industry lay on the country's vast mineral fuel deposits. Tanzania has one of the largest coal reserves in Africa and is a global leader in uranium reserves. Additionally, recent discoveries increased the estimated value of natural gas reserves to over 55 trillion cubic feet. In the last two decades, natural gas production has strongly developed in the country, however mainly focused on supplying the domestic demand. To change this scenario, Tanzania's government resumed negotiations with international companies at the end of 2021 for the construction of a long-awaited LNG plant on the southern coast of the country. With an investment value estimated at 30 billion U.S. dollars, the Likong’o-Mchinga LNG Project is expected to unlock Tanzania's potential for natural gas trade.
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