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Mining in Tanzania poses health, environmental threat – UN expert

Mining in Tanzania poses health, environmental threat – UN expert

Voicing concern about the impact of mining on the environment, workers and communities in Tanzania, an independent United Nations expert has recommended closer national monitoring of industry there.

Okechukwu Ibeanu, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, wrapped up a 10-day visit to the coastal East African nation today.

“I have observed through my meetings with a variety of stakeholders that the public may not have received any or sufficient information on the different chemical substances and dangerous products that they are exposed to in their workplace or their communities,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Ibeanu said that the mining industry is of particular concern. “I have witnessed first-hand small-scale miners using mercury without proper safety equipment,” he said, stressing that some miners lack the necessary information about the impact of mercury on their health and the environment.

He urged the Government and civil society to step up efforts to education and sensitize people about the dangers of mercury.

The Rapporteur also expressed concern about the impact of large-scale mining in Tanzania, noting the “limited government supervision” of the operations of large mining corporations regarding occupational health and safety standards.

Citing the mounting tensions between local communities and mining corporations, he called on authorities to monitor the industry’s activities more closely.

Regarding the management of chemicals, the expert commended the Government for creating a comprehensive legal framework to deal with toxic and dangerous products and waste.

Mr. Ibeanu, a Nigerian national, serves in an unpaid, personal capacity. Appointed as a Special Rapporteur in 2004, he reports to the UN Human Rights Council.