Time to reap from mineral potentials

TANZANIA is one of countries endowed with rich natural resources, among them minerals.

It is undisputed that minerals are naturally occurring inorganic elements or compounds having orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical compositions, crystal forms and physical properties.

Tanzania has different minerals, some of them being gold, diamond and it is the only country in the world that has tanzanite deposits. Of recent, the government has worked hard to improve the extractive industry so that it earns the nation foreign currencies.

The Sixth Phase Government is determined to reap potentials from its critical mineral deposits as it rejoices great achievements in the mining sector, including rising local participation to over 90 per cent.

The country rejoices great achievements in the mining sector so far, but on the way forward clean energy technologies, such as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) plants, Wind Farms, Nuclear Power and Electric Vehicles (EVs), will play an important role in the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Minerals are classified by key chemical constituents; the two dominant systems are the Dana classification and the Strunz classification. Silicate minerals comprise approximately 90 per cent of the Earth’s crust. Other important mineral groups include the native elements, sulfides, oxides, halides, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates.

Tanzania Mining Commission (TMC) Executive Secretary, Engineer Yahya Samamba, was quoted last week as saying that as the world exits from use of fossil fuels towards clean energy, the government is prepared to reap the potentials of the green minerals it has been blessed with.

With the transition to clean energy technologies, critical minerals such as graphite, copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt are in high demand, therefore the government is putting its house in order to invest in those areas.

An energy system powered by clean energy technologies differs profoundly from one fuelled by traditional hydrocarbon resources. Critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles.

Nickel deposits have been discovered in Kagera region, estimated at over 1.52 million tonnes. Over 18 million tonnes of graphite reserves were discovered in Lindi, Morogoro and Tanga regions, hence Tanzania is said to be the 5th largest reserve of graphite in the world.

About 138 billion cubic feet of helium is present at Lake Rukwa Basin – said to be the second largest helium deposit in the world. Furthermore, there are about 20 other deposits of critical mineral deposits in Tanzania, such as copper, lithium and many others.

A bottom-up assessment of energy policies in place or announced suggests that the world is currently on track for a doubling of overall mineral requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040.

We witnessed government entering into several new agreements with six mining licences granted for dealing in critical minerals such as copper, nickel, graphite and rare earth elements.

However, a concerted effort to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement (as in the Sustainable Development Scenario) would mean a quadrupling of mineral requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040. An even faster transition, to hit net-zero globally by 2050, would require up to six times more mineral inputs in 2040 than today.

Minerals revenue has increased from 346.2bn/- in 2018/19 to 624.6bn/- in 2021/22 financial year, the contribution of the mining sector to the GDP also rose to 7.3 per cent in 2021 from 4.8 in 2018 when the commission was formed. The government is taking the right move and it is time now and in future to reap even more for benefit of the nation and its people.

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