Mererani miners small scale face uncertain future TanzaniteOne, the foremost tanzanite mining company in Mererani has retrenched 200 workers from its list of employees, amidst reports that the price of the gem has dropped by 50 per cent in the world market due to the ongoing global economic turndown. The Simanjiro district based company recently embarked on the retrenchment exercise, according to its executive chairman Ami Mpungwe. He explained that his company had experienced big losses due to the unstable mineral prices worldwide. He said they have tried several options, but have been forced to cut down the work force as production cost has become unrealistic in relation to mineral prices in the market. The move is expected to affect a lot of other business ventures in Manyara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions, as tanzanite sales have been stimulating money circulation in the zone. One can easily note the effect in Arusha municipality as good number of mineral shops have closed down due to lack of business, a move that is affecting other business ventures here. Addressing journalists last week in Dar es Salaam, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said the drastic drop in the price of tanzanite on the world market threatened the industry and the future of local miners. ``The ongoing global calamity has affected the country, especially the mining sector,`` he was quoted as saying by the Guardian. ? The United States, South Africa and Thailand were the main markets for tanzanite, accounting for about 70 per cent of total sales, followed by Asia (15 per cent) and Europe (5 per cent). He said this was the second time for the price of tanzanite to nosedive, the first time being in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US. According to local gemstone dealers, the price of uncut tanzanite in the country had dropped by 50 per cent. They said in separate interviews that the gemstone, found only in Tanzania, now fetched USD180 per uncut gramme, down from USD 350 in June. ``This is the lowest price ever recorded in the history of tanzanite business,`` explained gemstone broker Adam Leiyani. Ndikaa Kerishu, a tanzanite dealer in Arusha, expressed fear that most local small-scale miners would be hard hit by the situation unless the price improved over the next two months. ``Most likely, many mine owners will opt out, a move that will lead to massive layoffs of workers,`` he warned. If that happened, he said, the economy of Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro regions would suffer a major blow because many local residents would be rendered jobless.