Tanzanite miners combat the terrorist connection to Tanzanite

The Federation of Small Scale Miners Association of Tanzania (FEMATA/SSM), a non-profit organization with over 500,000 members throughout Tanzania, announced in Arusha on October 7, 2001, several measures aimed at halting the association of Tanzanite to terrorism. (Arusha is home to the Tanzanite mining area located in Mererani, just 50 kilometers outside of Arusha).

Even before the front-page accusation by the Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2001, The Small Scale Miners (SSM) of Tanzania stated that, “unfortunately, for Tanzania, Tanzanite small scale miners and others, recent investigations have indeed uncovered businesses and business people with alleged ties to terrorist groups.” According to Lorraine Braden of Contemporary Global Enterprises (CGE), Pittsburgh, Pa. (now official U.S. emissary for the SSM), says that the good news is that they are by no means in the majority. In fact, many of those so involved have been detained and questioned by relevant Tanzanian law enforcement authorities and others including the FBI, Braden says.

“We totally condemn any and all acts of terrorism and unequivocally support all efforts directed at eradicating terrorism world-wide,” announced SSM. “And we wish to express our deeply felt sympathy and condolences to those who, on the 11th of September, 2001, lost their relatives and friends or suffered hurt in any way.”

Braden notes that the SSM not only wishes to assure the American public, which consumes at least 80% of all Tanzanite produced, that they have nothing to fear, but that proactive measures have been developed to restore the good name of Tanzanite.

One measure is to trace the gem’s history. Since Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania, the SSM, through FEMATA and the Government of Tanzania`s Ministry of Minerals and Natural Resources, will now issue their own “Certificate of Origin.” This will work with other procedures already in place, those being: All dealers in minerals, including brokers, must have a properly registered company and license under the laws of the Republic of Tanzania. All goods must be exported through the proper channels where proper documentation is issued. All documents will include an export permit, export receipt, company invoice, custom clearance, and freight forwarding documentation. The purpose of these procedures has always been to erect transparency and a paper trail so the buyer has assurance that their goods have originated and flowed through legitimate sources. In defense of its national pride and integrity, the SSM “categorically denounces any attempt to brand Tanzanite.” This statement expresses concern that AFGEM, the South African mining company now mining block C, is attempting to promote only their own tanzanite brand.

The above proposal is the focal point of the current initiative underway by FEMATA. It calls for the sale of cut gemstones, which provides revenues to support a self-sustaining fund for the local miner. And, according to Braden, FEMATA has asked the U.S. government to include Tanzanite under the African Growth and Opportunity Act which is geared toward increasing income generation to African countries who export finished goods to the U.S. The budget is allocated as follows: 50% of the revenue will go as cash to the SSM; 10% of that amount is set-aside in a fund, which provides mining education, equipment financing and safety equipment; 25% is used for marketing; 5% for cutting charges; 7% for administration; 3% for government export taxes; and 5% both to FEMATA and the local Regional Mining Association (REMA). Through this scheme all legitimate stakeholders benefit. It is also a plan by which corporate shareholders should be able to endorse and support.

For these measures to be successful, the SSM is appealing to all of those in the industry and to the public at large to be diligent in identifying legitimate suppliers of Tanzanite; although cumbersome, to request to see a paper trail (which should be the same as those records held by relevant authorities in Tanzania and by CGE), and to support the proposal for the SSM.

As for Braden’s appointment, the SSM found that they needed someone here in the U.S. who is an active member of the numerous Tanzanian mining organizations, and would work with them to get their information distributed concerning Tanzanite-as well as other Tanzanian minerals. Braden’s CGE will handle marketing, sales and media relations for SSM.

CGE is currently soliciting the input of other professionals in the industry as well as working with their legal and accounting partners (both in the U.S. and Tanzania) to set up a membership framework that will support these initiatives.

For more information, contact Lorraine Braden at CGE, call 412-281-3893 or e-mail at CGE@tanzaniadirectminerals.com.