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Tanzania: Magufulian Times

Heavy metal. Sometimes the stars are aligned. Last week began with a well-publicised report co-authored by several groups, including Global Justice and the Uganda Debt Network, highlighting how foreign mining companies deliberately under-report their shipments from Africa in order to reduce their tax burden. Such behaviour goes a long way to explain why the continent transferred $41bn more to the rest of the world than it received in aid, loans, remittances and investments during 2015. Within hours of the report garnering press attention, the results of a March audit of a load of over 250 mineral sands containers in Dar es Salaam landed on Tanzanian President John Magufuli's desk. It claimed that the load included 15.5 tonnes of gold rather than the 1.1 tonnes officially declared by declared by London-listed Acacia Mining. Other minerals such as copper and silver were also way above reported levels while iron, rhodium and lithium concentrates had slipped through the sieve completely.

Time out. It didn't take long before the mining minister and the chief of the state-run mineral audit agency, along with its supervisory board, were on their way. Further investigations, some with a judicial bent, are pending and the government has extended its ban on mineral sands exports. Acacia, whose share price dipped by 30% on Wednesday, has robustly rejected the audit's findings as fantastical and called for independent verification. Meanwhile, the DSE All Share Index gave up over 7% on the week as a few other audit committees in the region are the dusting off their scales and jostling for a ringside seat.

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