Mining dialogue paves the way for change

Participants at a dialogue on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) say the event has challenged their ideas about the sector and could pave the way for change.

News, 05 February 2018
Miners from the Tanga region in northern Tanzania participating in discussions about how to  make ASM in Tanzania more sustainable (Photo: Steve Aanu)

Miners from the Tanga region in northern Tanzania participating in discussions about how to  make ASM in Tanzania more sustainable (Photo: Steve Aanu)

IIED and partners organised a dialogue event in Tanzania last November to bring together mining stakeholders for four days of discussions about promoting sustainable small-scale mining. 

Interviews with the participants show how the dialogue was effective in breaking down barriers and changing people's views about the ASM sector.

The spirit of change is loud and clear – dialogue interviewee

David Mulabwa is the head of small-scale mining at Tanzania's ministry of mines. He said that his main take-away from the event was people's commitment to change. He said that, while there were challenges, "In most cases I think people's spirit for change is loud and clear. They want to undertake their activities more responsibly."

Some 90 people participated in the dialogue, including artisanal miners, local NGO staff, journalists and representatives of large mining conglomerates. 

Rebecca Stephen is the chief environmental advisor at Acacia Mining, one of the largest gold producers in Tanzania. She said the event helped break down barriers: "The past three days and today has been very good in terms of first, meeting different people, with different backgrounds, and different responsibilities, but all meeting together to try and brainstorm and find out solutions."

She added: "For us it is a good experience to see and take away, so that you can try and assist in terms of looking for solutions."

Delegates visited small-scale mines and local communities in the gold-producing region of Geita in Northern Tanzania before coming together for two days of discussions about how good practice in ASM can be an engine for sustainable development for Tanzania. 

Rachel Joseph mines the gemstone Tanzanite and leads the women miners' organisation TAWOMA. She said meeting other artisanal miners helped her understand that they faced common challenges. She added: "I've also learned a woman can actually progress and become a better miner."

Kidevu Dikura is a miner and chairs the cooperative which runs the Msisi gold mine in Rwamgasa. He learned about practical support on offer. Kidevu said: "I've learned that we could get support from different places. We didn't know we could get loans using geological information and this has opened up our thoughts and possibilities for the future."


Jimmy Luhenda, a media development specialist based in Mwanza, said the media industry needed to change its perceptions about the sector. He spoke frankly about his views of artisanal miners: "My first perception about this industry was that the small-scale miners, they are just people who are looking gold and normally they are very rough people."

The dialogue had helped him to see things differently. He said: "But now after this session, I see there is a lot of growth in this sector, people are very much organised and they have a system of employing people and they are contributing a lot to the family income of various communities and they are contributing highly to the development of villages – which I wasn't very much aware."

IIED organised the dialogue with local partners NGO HakiMadini and MTL Consulting. Further ASM dialogues are planned for 2018. IIED is also convening ASM dialogues in other countries: locally-driven processes are already under way in Ghana and Madagascar

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You can find out more about the Tanzania dialogue and IIED's ASM work: