Leather and Leather Products Institute

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Leather for Health, Wealth and Luxury

Tannery closures are costing Mali money

Four tanneries operating in and around Mali’s capital city, Bamako, say a government decision to disconnect them from a common effluent treatment plant is unfair. The four companies at the centre of the controversy are West Africa, IMAT, Tamak and Nouvelle Tannerie du Mali.

The tanneries learned of the decision earlier in November 2013, with the authorities claiming that the leather producers were doing too little to carry out primary effluent treatment before sending waste water to the common plant. The common effluent treatment plant, which is in Sotuba, processes effluent from more than 30 industrial facilities in the Bamako region. The tanneries had their access to the plant cut off on November 4, 2013 and have been unable to operate since.

But at a press conference on November 15, representatives of the leather industry in the African country said the decision was completely arbitrary and unfair. Ahmed Diadié Ascofaré, who runs one of the tanneries affected, said he would prefer a return to the way of working before the common effluent treatment plant was in place, with each company taking complete responsibility for its own waste management. He said the common effluent treatment plant was incapable of carrying out effective treatment of the waste.

At the same press conference, the president of the local tanning industry association, Hamidou Traoré, said 400 jobs were directly under threat from the government’s action, with a further 1,000 jobs indirectly dependent on the four tanneries.

In addition, Mr Traoré said 700,000 people in Mali make a living from activities related to the collection of hides and skins, with Bamako’s four tanneries alone processing between 10,000 and 12,000 hides and skins every day. He said Mali is currently able to export around 6 million processed hides and skins each year, bringing more than $50 million into the economy. He called on the government to allow the capital’s tanneries to start production again as soon as possible. “Each day of this imposed closure is costing Mali money,” he said.

He said the decision had come at the worst possible time because a large amount of raw material had been collected following the Eid al-Adha festival, which fell in October this year, and was now awaiting processing. Mr Traoré said his organization would go to court to have the government decision overturned.


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