(AA) – At least 15 mines of Tanzanite – a precious gemstone so far only found in the country from which it derives its name – caught fire late Monday in Tanzania’s northern Manyara region.
“Tanzania National Electrical Company (TANESCO) technicians were on their regular work at the mining area before the fire broke out,” Joel Bendera, the Manyara Regional Commissioner, told The Anadolu Agency by phone.
“Though investigations are still ongoing, we believe the fire broke out from electrical fault,” he said.
“Mining experts, TANESCO engineers, police officers and miners are on the ground for thorough investigations and evaluation on the losses,” added the official.
The incident occurred in the Mirerani area of Simanjiro district in Manyara region.
The area has more than one hundred Tanzanite mines owned by local miners.
Johnson Mallya, a miner, blamed TANESCO technicians of negligence.
“From last Sunday, TANESCO workers were servicing electrical wires going to the mines which sometimes led to total blackout in the area,” he told AA.
“We reported some unusual signs we had seen to the TANESCO team but they ignored,” Mallya claimed.
Sadiki Mneney, the chairman of Manyara Miners Association, suggested the damages would render over 2,500 workers jobless.
“Early evaluations show that the loss is over $ 4.5 million,” he told AA by phone. “This might increase tremendously after the final evaluation.”
Abdul Mohamed said his mine has been turned into aches.
“I am not sure how am going to pay the bank loan interest without operating the mine,” he told AA.