The Tanzanian president has ordered the mining ministry to suspend the granting of new licenses, a statement from State House said on Tuesday, the latest twist in an ongoing row between the government and mining companies.
“President Magufuli has ordered the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to suspend the issuance of new special mining licences and renewal of expired licences,” the president’s office said in a statement.
This follows the passing of three bills giving the resource-rich East African nation the right to tear up and renegotiate contracts for natural resources like gas or minerals, and removing the right to international arbitration.
The bills were introduced on Thursday and rapidly passed, despite pleas for more time from an association representing mining companies.
Tanzania is Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer and has made vast natural gas discoveries but remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Mining companies that could be affected by the proposed law changes include AngloGold Ashanti, Acacia Mining Plc and Petra Diamonds.
Acacia, which has most of its operations in Tanzania, has been particularly at odds with Magufuli’s government.