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Tanzanite miners at the Tanzanite One mine on Tanzania.

  Increase in illegal mining impacts production of tanzanite

October 14, 2012

An upsurge in illegal mining operation nearby its concession area has caused a fall in production at the tanzanite mine operated by Richland Resources, the world's largest producer of the gemstone.

According to the company, during the first half of 2012 it produced 1,205,219 carats from processing of 18,170 tons of ore, 3 percent less than the amount produced during the same period in 2012, and a 14.5 percent decrease in the tons of ore processed. This was despite a 6 percent increase in the recovery rate.

Bernard Olivier, Richland's chief executive, reported that mining activity adjacent to Richland's Block C license area had resulted in danger to employees and substantial damage to the mining infrastructure, as well as theft and damage of underground equipment and stones.

"The company is working with the Zonal Mines Office (part of the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals), police and other government officials in an effort to counteract the illegal underground mining into its licensed areas and several police cases have been filed," he added.

In the meantime, as part of the reforms in the Tanzanite mining sector, the government has said it will pass on 50 per cent of the shares in Tanzanite One to the state-owned Stamico mining company. This will make Stamico the overseer of the government interests in the company that was previously a fully owned subsidiary of Richland.

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