Police in Tanzania have cordoned off the Mirerani tanzanite mines operated by Tanzanite One, to secure the extraction of the gemstone. Tanzanian President John Magufuli, has accused miners of depriving the government of its due share of revenue through the illegal export of a variety of gemstones, including diamonds.
Last Friday, Magufuli ordered all tanzanite mines to be walled and monitored and asked the country’s central bank to buy and stock the stone. The President also ordered the seizure of an export parcel of diamonds from the Williamson mine, which is majority-owned by Petra Diamonds, with the government as the minority shareholder. The government said the parcel had been grossly undervalued. Petra denied the accusation and is seeking to get the parcel released.
The police commander of the area in which the tanzanite mine is located, said the police were now in position and could observe all activities in the mine from extraction to storage of gems.
Some Tanzanite One directors were arrested and interrogated by the local police. They have now been transferred to Dar-es-Salaam for further interrogations.
A Tanzanian parliamentary committee investigating the tanzanite extraction and export business, said its findings indicated that 80 percent of the gemstones had been exported illegally.