The fair, held after a 12-year lull, realised almost all its anticipated goals—to bring international mineral dealers in the country and in a short run, turn Arusha into the global for mineral auctioning.
Richland Resources, through their unit TanzaniteOne Mining, had more than a field day as they alone sold tanzanite stones worth over three million US dollars (about 4.8bn/-) during the fair. The amount closely matched total sales for the 2011 first quarter of 3.96 million US dollars (about 6.34bn/-).
TanzaniteOne is the biggest miner of the rare violet blue gemstone in the world. The Fair Organising Chairman, Mr Abe Suleiman, told the ‘Business Standard’ earlier that the fair targeted to generate between 1.0 million US dollars (about 1.6bn/-) and 6 million US dollars (about 9.6bn/-).
“We don’t want to blow our own trumpet but visitors have told us that the show was well organised,” Mr Suleiman said over the phone from Arusha. He said the show was well attended, while a number of deals and direct sales were concluded and the target was surely going to be achieved.
“The government wants to turn Arusha into a regional gemstones centre due to its comparative advantages, including geographic location and abundance of minerals,” the Chairman said. The Richland Resources Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bernard Olivier said the complete report on actual figures the firm sold during the fair will be reported in the second quarter.
“The company is very pleased with the success of the Arusha gem show in Tanzania,” Mr Olivier said. With support from big tanzanite miners and the introduction of certificates of origin in real time will help to curb smuggling of gemstones outside the country.
The Ministry of Energy and Minerals announced recently that no foreign buyers would be allowed to buy tanzanite without a certificate of origin, a system introduced since last October.
The Acting Minerals Commissioner, Mr Ally Samaje was quoted by the ‘Business Standard’ saying: “It will be compulsory for every buyer to ensure that tanzanite purchased was certified.” According to the ministry, the initiative, if properly administered, would help plug all ‘panya (illegal) routes’ used by unscrupulous Tanzanian tanzanite dealers who illicitly export the gemstone.
It is estimated that the tanzanite gemstone, which is exclusively mined in Merelani hills in northern Tanzania, nets merely 100 million US dollars out of the annual trade volume of 500 million US dollars.
Analysts said the amount was small. The Tanzania Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA) has hailed the introduction of certificates of origin for tanzanite, saying the move will not only curb smuggling but also increase tax collection.
The association said the certificates will also add value to the cut stones that the country exports by showing their source of origin. No consignment of the gemstone will be accepted in the international gem markets without the certificate.
The association Secretary- General Mr Sam Mollel said the certification is commendable as it will increase many times the current revenue and improve data collected by the government on the blue-violet stone which has been named a special gem.
The certification movement started way back in 2002 when the stakeholders wanted to control and regulate the exports in a bid to maximise revenue and profit but failed to agree which body to issue the document.
“We later agreed that the government should issue the document,” Mr Mollel said. The government has since resolved the issue and the certificates would be issued in Arusha and at the Ministry’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam.
During the Arusha show, as anticipated tanzanite was the most attractive gem but other minerals like savorite from Tunduru and Songea in Ruvuma Region, ruby and spinel from Mahenge in Morogoro Region were also sold in big quantities.
The AIGJMF 2012 attracted 100 international buyers and 40 exhibitors from Nigeria, Mozambique, Congo DRC, Malawi and
neighbouring countries in the East African Community (EAC). It also attracted 60 non-buyer participants. AIGJMF will be an annual event and the next show will be held in April 2013.