Smuggled gold seized at Dar port Send to a friend Sunday, 06 March 2011 14:00 digg Part of the Dar es Salaam port which is said to be one of the conduits of smuggled gold from the Democratoc Republic of Congo (DRC). PHOTO | FILE By Polycarp Machira & Agencies Dar es Salaam. Hardly a week after local mining officials had disputed the US governments claim that Tanzania was a source of conflict minerals, a huge amount of smuggled gold is reported to have been seized at the Dar es Salaam port.International media reports this week listed Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports as conduits for smuggled gold, with a whopping 2.5 tonnes worth over $100 million (about Sh140 billion) impounded at the Kenyan harbour. While the reports did not indicate the quantity of the minerals netted in Tanzania, it was categorical that the country was among those involved in the illicit trade. However, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Mr Robert Manumba, and the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Suleiman Kova, said they had not heard of or leant about any gold seizure in the country. I am not aware of the news, may be the port authorities have more information on the matter, said DCI Manumba on Friday over the phone. Meanwhile, Commander Kova said he had not received any file with such information, adding that records at the Zonal crime investigations department had no information on the matter. Efforts to get details from Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) on Friday were also futile as director general Mr Ephraim Mgawe could not be reached on phone. His aides said he was in a meeting with officials from the Prime Ministers office who were visiting the port. While the authorities in the country said they were not aware of the incident, their counterparts in Kenya confirmed the seizure. Preliminary investigations have indicated that the gold was smuggled from Eastern Congo," a senior official at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) told US-based Dow Jones Newswires on Wednesday. Kenyan local media reported earlier this week that an official with Kenya's Revenue Authority was shot dead on Monday while investigating the gold smuggling racket. Aid agencies say despite an existing ban on mining and mineral trade in three restive Eastern Congo provinces, armed groups, aided by regional mineral dealers, continue to smuggle Congolese minerals, mainly through Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. A recent new US law labels all gold produced in countries neighbouring the conflict-hit Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including Tanzania, as "conflict minerals. Mining companies operating in the country says the Dodd-Frank legislation, which is aimed at cutting funds to armed rebels in DR Congo would jeopardise the Tanzania's gold industry, the fourth biggest by production in Africa. "We have written to the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to explain how this legislation will affect Tanzania's economy," the chairman of Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy (TCME), Mr Ami Mpungwe told news agencies. Saying that TCME is opposed to the law labelling all gold produced in countries neighbouring the conflict-hit DRC as "conflict minerals, he said they have already officially lodged a complaint with the US authorities. That was in a February 25 submission to the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), which categorically states that Tanzanian gold is not financing the conflict in the DRC, he said. Last year, minerals ministers from Congo, Uganda and Kenya agreed to improve cooperation in the monitoring of cross-border illegal mineral dealings, believed to be the main source of funding for Congolese armed groups. Early this week, DRC President Joseph Kabila was in Kenya for emergency talks with President Kibaki over the smuggling of minerals from the unstable central African nation by a ruthless cartel. The two leaders immediately set up a joint investigative team to probe the syndicate, which is linked to the execution of the KRA official on February 26 who was involved in the investigations of the smuggling activities. On Friday, Kenyan Internal Security minister George Saitoti said: detectives investigating the network smuggling the DRC gold will question people in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. On Wednesday, Ms Sasha Lezhnev, of US advocacy group Enough Project, said states like Tanzania, which have a well-developed and organised gold mining sector, must impose better controls on gold exports to ensure the country isn't used as a conduit for Congolese smuggled minerals. "Tanzania must clean up this trade and fully trace its minerals to ensure they don't include this smuggled material," she said. "In order to fulfil the provisions of the US law, Tanzania has a responsibility to differentiate between conflict gold coming from Congo and the legitimate gold coming from its own mines through a rigorous independent monitoring system," she noted. Tanzania is among a number of African countries required to verify the sourcing of its mineral exports under the Dodd-Frank legislation, which comes into force in April, and is designed to stop the sale of illegally mined minerals from Africa that fund conflicts. Under the US proposal, companies reveal annually whether they are sourcing tantalum, tin, gold and tungsten from the war-torn region, disclosing the source of the conflict minerals if that mineral is needed to make the product. Gold mining companies operating in Tanzania and the Tanzanian government are calling for the country's removal from the list. Tanzania's Chamber of Minerals and Energy has already written an appeal to the US in an effort to protect the country's gold exports. Mr Mpungwe says the new legislation could lead to stigmatisation of responsibly produced gold in Tanzania. According to the deputy minister for Energy and Minerals, Mr Adam Kighoma Malima, the legislation would have serious ramifications for the country's economy, which has gold accounting for about a third of foreign exchange earnings. But Mr Mike Davis, the head of the Conflict Resources team at rights group Global Witness, said the risks of damage to the Tanzanian mining sector by the new legislation have been "greatly exaggerated". He said a bulk of the gold mining in Tanzania is in large industrial operations that should have little difficulty meeting the requirements of Dodd-Frank. "It's important to keep in mind here that the act is not about embargoing or black-listing countries, it is about reporting on supply-chain controls," he said. "It is unlikely that it is going to require the major gold miners in Tanzania to gather information that they do not already have. The only difference is that they will now have to disclose it. Smuggled gold MY TAKE Mkiwa na majitu majizi madarakani hata the leading source of foreign exchange inaweza kuwa crippled to its knees!