Tanzania minister says local tanzanite dealers are licensed

Tanzanite is being traded through licensed local dealers and exported through formal channels, the government of Tanzania has assured the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA).

In a statement, the ICA says that it has requested, and consequently received, a formal assurance from the government of Tanzania that individuals engaging in the export of tanzanite from that country are doing so according to licenses issued to them by state authorities.

In a letter written in mid-January to Tanzania’s minister of Energy and Resources, E.D. Maokola-Majogo, ICA President Israel Eliezri noted recent reports in the general press about alleged connections between the proceeds from tanzanite mined in Tanzania and the financing of terrorist organizations. This, the ICA president wrote, “had very serious implications on the tanzanite trade and consequently, on the revenues that Tanzania is getting from exporting this exquisite gemstone.” By licensing tanzanite merchants and dealers, ICA members, who in practice buy the vast majority of the tanzanite rough produced at Merelani, will be able to rebuild the faith of the main consumer market-the USA, the ICA president stated.

In a written reply, the minister noted that almost all tanzanite mined at Merelani, the country’s primary tanzanite deposit, is sold to licensed gemstone dealers and exported through formal channels. “Every shipment is examined by government officials, stamped with a government seal, and then issued with an official export permit,” the minister stated.

The minister also referred to the reported disparity in the value of the Tanzanian government’s evaluation of the tanzanite export, and the value the goods receive when sold and set in the jewelry in the U.S. market. “The big disparity between the official export figures and the final sales in the USA is due to undervaluation during export and value addition done outside the country,” Maokola-Majogo wrote.

The minister urged the ICA to send a fact-finding mission to Tanzania to examine the situation at Merelani for itself. “We are open to suggestions, aimed at improving the tanzanite trade and curbing smuggling,” the minister said.

Upon receipt of the Tanzanian minister’s assurances, the ICA Executive Committee reaffirmed its commitment to taking the necessary measures, in cooperation with national and other associations, to better control the movement of goods from the mine to the market.