|Environmental Impacts of Small Scale Mining (CEEST, 1996, 62 p.)|
|5. Environmental Legislation|
Currently, the Tanzania Mining Act 1979 and Mining Regulations provisions are not sufficiently effective as far as environmental protection to regulate the small scale mining industry is concerned. In essence, very few developing countries have effective, comprehensive and proven environmental regulations for mining. Many of these countries only give high priority to the development of mineral exploitation for economic gain with lower priority directed towards environmental problems. It is difficult to discern why the environment, being an intimate part of mining, has not been given its deserved attention -particularly in a country plagued by a host of environmental degradants such as erosion caused by animals, water action, deforestation, and rampant artisanal mining activities. The subject is currently receiving its due attention and it is hoped that the Government will conduct a more thorough review in the near future.
The current legislation which touches on environmental issues is contained in the Mining (Claims) Regulations, 1980 in which Article 13 (Obligation on Abandonment) states that:-
1. "Any person who abandons his claim or whose claim (other than a disc claim) shall forthwith notify the Commissioner of the abandonment.
2. Any person who abandons his claim or whose claim expires or is cancelled.
a. Shall forthwith fill up, fence or secure to the satisfaction of the Commissioner or other prescribed officer all shafts, pits, holes and excavations in such a manner as to prevent person or stock inadvertently entering them; and
b. Shall remove the location beacon and all boundary posts thereon.
3. Any person who fails or neglects to comply with sub-regulation (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Tshs. 1, 000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both that fine and imprisonment and in addition shall be liable to pay such sum as the Commissioner may certify the cost of doing so will be."
Article 23 (Deposit of Tailings), also states that:-
1. "The holder of a claim whose mine has access to water-course, may deposit in it tailings from that mine.
2. The Commissioner may, by order published in the Gazette, prohibit the deposit of tailings in any water-course or any part of it; or may limit the extent of the deposit in such manner as he may think fit and in that case may prescribe the manner of disposal of tailings from mines having access to the water-course, or any part of it; or may limit the extent of the deposit in such a manner as he may think fit; and in that case may prescribe the manner of disposal of tailings from mines having access to the water-course.
3. No such order shall come into force until two months after the date of its first publication, unless the Commissioner, for special reason stated in the order directs otherwise.
4. The holder of a claim shall not, except with the consent of the Commissioner, deposit in any water-course or permit to except from the area of his claim any chemical or other substance deleterious to animal or vegetable life.
5. When tailings are not deposited in a water-course the holder of a claim may be ordered to retain all or any specified class of tailings, within the area limited by his claim, or within such other area as the Commissioner may direct."
From the above set of rules one, is at liberty to judge whether the above environmental regulatory framework can effectively deal with the immense task which is at hand. The burning question thus is: "What Constitutes Effective Environmental Regulations?"
Effective implies that the nation is seeking to achieve some goal or satisfy specific objectives that have been identified and also implies practicability (in terms of the industries ability and willingness to comply), or workability (for example, the regulatory system must be workable within the constraints of manpower availability and training and within the means granted to implement the regulatory functions). The present field situation does indeed confirm the total non-compliance of even the existing environmental regulatory regime as stipulated in the Mining (Claims) Regulations, 1980.
The problem then is how to draft and implement an environmental protection policy and legislation which fits the administrative, practical and philosophical needs of the country. This is not a problem with a single solution. It calls for a global approach by considering the unique social, political, economic, legal circumstances and education level of the masses involved in artisanal, medium or large scale mining businesses/ventures.
In recognition of the complex nature of this subject, the Government formed the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) in 1983. NEMC is a body corporate which inter alia formulates, coordinates, evaluates, reviews and appraises environmental issues and creates awareness country-wide. In carrying out its duties, NEMC maintains close collaboration with the Ministries concerned. However, it could be argued that the presence of this institution has not been fully felt as yet (for a brief look of NEMC's mandate refer to excerpts of the Act Establishing NEMC which are contained in Appendix II).