A new gold refinery set to be the biggest in Tanzania has begun production in a step towards the government's aim of processing more of the precious metal domestically.
Africa's fourth-biggest gold producer and home to industrial gold mines run by Barrick, AngloGold Ashanti and others, Tanzania has been trying to formalise subsistence gold mining and develop refineries to generate more revenue from the sector.
The refinery in Mwanza, a city on Lake Victoria, is processing gold from sources including subsistence or "artisanal" miners, Tanzania's State Mining Corporation (Stamico), a 25% shareholder, said.
Subsistence miners have been estimated to number around 1 - 1.5 million in Tanzania, though the actual number could be much higher. Gold mining has become more attractive as prices jumped.
"Our major source of raw gold will be from artisanal miners, middle and larger miners. We also expect raw gold from neighbouring countries," Venance Mwasse, acting managing director of Stamico told Reuters by phone. He did not specify from which other countries he expects gold.
Mwanza Precious Metal Refinery refined 47 kilogrammes of gold on its first day of operations on April 21 and has capacity to refine up to 480 kilogrammes of gold per day at 99.99% purity, Mwasse said.
Dubai-based Rozella General Trading LLC and Singapore-based ACME Consultant Engineers PTE Ltd together hold a 75% stake in the refinery, according to a statement from Stamico which did not specify the individual shares held by Rozella and ACME.
Spot gold was trading at $1,764.50 per ounce on Thursday.
Rozella General Trading did not respond to an emailed request for comment. Reuters could not immediately contact ACME Consultant Engineers PTE Ltd.
Mwasse said the refinery plans to help artisanal miners produce more gold, and has met with dealers and brokers to bring in more gold.