Gold mining: the search for common ground

To better understand the wide range of people who depend on gold mining, IIED travelled to Tanzania to talk to some of them. Here are some of their stories.

Sian Lewis's picture
Insight by 
Sian Lewis
Staff writer at IIED
11 June 2015
Levocatus Saidi Bujiku has been working as an artisanal miner for about two years (Photo: Brian Sokol/Panos Pictures)

Levocatus Saidi Bujiku has been working as an artisanal miner for about two years (Photo: Brian Sokol/Panos Pictures)

Within any gold mining district you will find a wide range of people. At a glance, they may appear very different — they use different tools, work in different conditions, and operate within different confines of the law.

But read between the lines and you will find they have more in common than you thought, and that their story is one of joint humanity, shared values and mutual hopes for a good life. 

From the geologist at her desk to the miner down the pit, and from the mining officer to the village elder, large-scale miners, small-scale miners and government workers alike are people.

They are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters — working to provide for their families and secure a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

The photos below tell the human story of gold mining... Click on each of the images below to expand them.

"My name is Levocatus Saidi Bujiku. I am 22 years old and I have been working as an artisanal miner for about two years.

"I am also a son, a father and a husband. My own son, Kevin, lives with my mother far away. My biggest hope is to give him education so he can uplift me as his parent. I pray to God that I can make enough money to take care of my family."

"My name is Wellington Moses. I am 41 years old and have been a dump truck operator at a large-scale mine for nearly ten years. I work the biggest dump truck — 250 tons — in Tanzania: it's a beautiful machine.

"I am also a husband and a father. I am not a poor man, I am not a rich man; but I have a comfortable standard of life with my wife and three children. My hope for the future is that my children get enough school."

"My name is Mlindwa Maganga. I am 41 years old. I am the chairman of Mawemeru village and as part of that role, I deal with small-scale mining licences.

"I am also a farmer, a small-scale miner, a husband and a father. I have a wife and three children, aged 13, 7 and 1. Most of my income goes on school fees — it's important for me that my children get the best in education so they can be in a better position in this life and in this world."

"My name is Simon Sebastian Nsangano. I am 66 years old and have been a gold miner for 50 years.

"I am also a farmer and a family man. I work in my garden and then go to my mine pits. My wife recently died but I have my four children. I dream of giving my family a better life. I work day after day but the results are poor. If I had money I would send all my sons to high school."

"My name is Betty Bernard Kakulu. I am 33 years old and I come from Bukoba, 300km to the north of here. I have been a reconciliation geologist at a large-scale gold mine for six and a half years.

"I am also a sister and a daughter. Forty per cent of my salary every month goes to support my siblings and mother, who live far away. My mother is my everything. I dream of having a family some day."

"My name is Fortunatus Waziri and I am 22 years old. In 2009 I travelled the 100km from Kahama to Mawemeru; and I have been working here in a small-scale gold mine ever since.

"I am also a father. My two children live with my grandmother far away. I send them money whenever I can but it is my dream to get big money and build a house for them. As I mine, night and day I fight for my children's lives."

Find out about the the human story of gold mining in 'Gold mining, the search for common ground' below and on our Shorthand Social website.