The trading centre will be the sole facility where the rare minerals found only there will be auctioned for buyers from within and outside the country.
Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development Minister Angeline Mabula was on an inspection tour of the site and expressed her satisfaction on the construction progress.
“This will be the only place where tanzanite will be sold to buyers thus reducing the burden of travelling long distances to sell the mineral,” she said.
She challenged tanzanite dealers to tell the gemstone buyers that Mererani in Simanjiro District, Manyara Region, is the only place where the mineral is mined.
The minister said the multi-billion-shilling building complex would be completed soon to the convenience of all manner of the gemstone dealers and exporters.
Dr Mabula said unscrupulous tanzanite traders in some neighbouring countries have taken advantage of absence of the facility to misinform the world on where tanzanite is mined.
National Housing Corporation (NHC) manager for Kilimanjaro region Juma Kiaramba said the auction building will be completed at the end of this year.
He attributed the delay to the rising cost of procuring the building materials as well as the construction costs as the project was in progress.
One of the tanzanite traders who identified himself as Paul Lukumay said the new facility will ease the tanzanite business by doing away with some unfaithful brokers and middlemen.
In June 2021, the government directed that all processing and trading activities for tanzanite gemstones take place at Mererani where the rare mineral is mined.
This was meant to boost the economy of the mining township in the semi-arid plains of Simanjiro District and increase its visibility to the world as the only source of tanzanite.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said when he inaugurated the building that this would also enable Mererani to maximise earnings from the rare gemstone.
He hastened to say that Mererani was not benefiting much from tanzanite processing activities which, according to him, can stimulate the local economy.
The directive followed appeals made by some mineral dealers and local politicians that Arusha city had unfairly taken over the lion’s share of tanzanite trading.
It is in the city, some 65 kilometres from the mines,where the gemstone dealers had invested in posh homes, office blocks, hotels and other commercial enterprises.
The measure can also assist in curbing smuggling of the rare mineral, mined nowhere in the world except Tanzania, through the neighbouring states.
It also downed the 24 kilometre perimeter road constructed around the site in 2017 at the cost of Sh6 billion was not enough to curb smuggling of the mineral.
However, since early this year there has been pressure from the gemstone dealers and other stakeholders in Arusha to enable the city to retain some tanzanite business.
This was particularly so after the opening of a multi-million-shilling regional mineral buying centre in June 2019 in the city to facilitate mineral buying and selling business.
Arusha, according to the chairperson of Tanzania Mineral Dealers’ Association (TAMIDA) Sammy Mollel was also a major local investment destination for the gemstone’s earnings.
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