Tanzania, the fourth-largest gold producer on the African continent after Ghana, Mali, and South Africa, has awarded contracts to Chinese firms for the construction of a gold smelter and two gold refineries in the country, Minister for Minerals Doto Biteko told Reuters. He noted that the decision was made after “carefully assessing the financial capability and history of [the] companies”.
The next step will be licencing the construction of large gold mines, which will be awarded to two companies. Each of the winners will be investing around $100 million, the minister added. The country hopes to boost domestic gold production and government revenues from selling it by attracting foreign firms for the task.
Tanzania’s government has been undertaking steps to increase revenue from its natural wealth, but so far a significant portion of the mined gold is still being smuggled out of the country illegally.
China has been boosting its gold reserves lately, becoming the second biggest buyer of the precious metal in 2018 and 2019 after Russia. The Russian Central bank bought 18.7 tonnes in March 2019 alone, ramping up the reserves to a total of 2,170 tonnes, while China bought 10.21 tonnes in the same month, increasing its reserves to 1,900 tonnes. India has also been following in Russia and China’s steps, purchasing 8.2 tonnes in 2019, boosting reserves to 46.7 tonnes.