Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, has sacked the country’s minister of energy and minerals, Sospeter Muhongo, after an audit of shipping containers loaded with mineral sands and precious metals showed exports had been very substantially understated.

The audit initiated by the president found that 277 containers held as much as 15.5 tonnes of gold, instead of the 1.1 tonnes that had been declared.

Magufuli has also disbanded the Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency’s board and dismissed its chief executive officer, Dominic Rwekaza, for failing to properly supervise the mining industry.

Tax evasion

The president’s decision, announced on national television, reflects mounting tension between the government and the mining industry, which has denied allegations of tax evasion.

Magufuli said the audit revealed that London-based Acacia Mining declared the presence of gold, copper and silver in its mineral sand exports but did not declare other precious metals in the consignments.

Investigators’ findings

“The [audit] committee found that there were many other minerals in those shipping containers that were not declared, such as sulphur, iron, iridium, titanium and zinc,” Magufuli said.

“They [Acacia] were also under-invoicing the actual gold, copper and silver content in those shipping containers,” he added.