THE Court of Appeal has resolved a controversy over the ownership of a land with gold prospect at Nyamlilima Village in Geita District, declaring Geita Gold Mine (GGM) as the rightful owner, as opposed to claims by mineral miner Hosea Katampa.
A panel, led by Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Juma, and Justices Stella Mugasha and Gerald Ndika ruled in favour of GGM after allowing their cross appeal they had lodged against the High Court judgment, while dismissing the appeal the mineral dealer had also filed to oppose lower court findings.
“From the totality of the evidence of a special mining licence and the evidence of witnesses on record, we agree with the counsel for (GGM) that the trial judge erred to conclude that the disputed area was not allocated to (the mining company),” they ruled in their judgement.
Although the two witnesses for the respondents at the trial court should have been asked to highlight whether Nyamlilima Ridge 8 is within the coordinates rather than simply tender a copy of the licence, the Justices agreed with the counsel for GGM on the availability of other evidence on the matter.
The respondents in the appeal apart from GGM were the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and the Attorney General (AG). On their own re-evacuation of the evidence regarding the lawful owner of the disputed ridge, the Justices said the counsel for GGM was correct to submit that there was no other evidence, which placed the disputed areas within the area of the special mining licence.
The Justices noted that the availability of Mr Katampa, as the appellant’s own evidence, which corroborated and expounded on the areas envisaged under the licence that the land in dispute was allocated to the mining company.
When dismissing the appellant’s appeal, they said the trial judge could not be faulted for concluding that he did not bring any cogent evidence to establish his ownership over the disputed mining area known as Nyamlilima Ridge 8.
According to them, what was meant by the evidence of ownership in the context of the Mining Act of 2010 was documentary proof in form of the prospecting licence or special mining licence or primary licences.
“No mining or mineral activities can take place outside a strict legal regime provided under Section 5 of the Mining Act, 2010 that illustrates the extent, which the Republic has over minerals that are found on any land or under any land,” they noted.
The Justices further clarified that such minerals did not in law belong to either the occupier of land or any person, who found the mineral on top of the land outside the mineral licensing statutory regime.
Therefore, they said, it was not possible for the appellant to claim mineral rights evidenced by a documentary licence by reason only that he and other small-scale miners were formerly sub-contracted to the Dar Tadine Tanzania Limited (DTT).
“It is also not legally feasible outside the licences provided for, for the appellant to acquire mineral rights from directives or orders of then District Commissioner of Geita or a letter which the (DC) purportedly wrote to inform the appellant and fellow small scale miners that they were free to mine,” they said.
It was alleged that in 1980s, a mining company going by the name as Dar Tadine Tanzania Limited (DTT) had entered into an agreement with the State Mining Corporation (Stamico), which was the government owned mining agency. Under the agreement, the government engaged the DTT to supervise small-scale mining activities in several areas of Geita District, which included the disputed ridge.
At some time, the appellant and other small-scale miners became subcontractors of DTT, who purchased gold obtained from their mining plots.
The appellant had claimed also that, when the government terminated its relationship with DTT, the Geita district commissioner issued orders, which allowed former sub-contractors of the company like him to remain and continue with smallscale mining activities in the area, including the ridge.