Formalising the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in Tanzania

Formalising the artisanal and small-scale mine (ASM) sector in Tanzania by establishing a model mine and processing centres has been part of the country’s Mineral Policy since 2010. Tanzania’s ASM sector is growing significantly because of job creation and poverty reduction.

Sabai Isaka Nyansiri completed an MSc degree in Project Management at the Curtin University of Technology in June 2014. He is employed by the Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals and is tasked to manage a mineral resource project sustainably. The project that he has been instrumental in formalises ASMs by teaching miners the appropriate technology to improve productivity and conserve the environment.

The project focuses on areas with concentrations of ASM and will establish six demonstration centres in different regions. Four of the centres will be for gold production, one for salt production and the other for gemstone training. The gemstone centre, known as the Tanzania Gemmological Centre, runs almost at full capacity. Full scholarships and working equipment have been given to female students to establish their entities which will provide cutting and jewellery services. The gemstone centre has increased female involvement in mining activities, through gemstone activities.

This project formed part of Sabai’s Reintegration Action Plan (RAP). He set out to assist the sector in achieving sustainable mining by moving away from poor, hand-held tools to processing equipment such as crushers, milling machines and adsorption circuits, thus enabling continuous processing and minimal discharge of toxic chemicals to the environment. The project has also exposed miners to technologies such as concrete mixed with galvanised wire mesh and frame metal to reinforce and support underground hanging walls in access and production zones.

The impact of the project’s outcomes to stakeholders is approximate; artisanal and small-scale miners (70%), the community around ASM centres (10%), government (15%) and other individuals (5%). Communities around the ASM centres will benefit from trade created by a new market for food and various consumables by miners. The government will also benefit from revenue collected in the form of taxes (service levies, corporate taxes, royalties and rentals) from the production of gold and services provided in the surrounding areas.

Sabai’s award gained skills have contributed to the success of the project. He typically employs project management knowledge and skills to manage the various stakeholders involved and monitor the quality, time, cost and scope of the project.

As a result of Sabai’s activities, mine exploration has been conducted in selected areas to confirm the availability of ore. These results have been convincing. Also, Sabai’s project has involved various government agencies in the prospecting and drilling activities, as a way of empowering them. The centres of excellence will be rolled out to every region in Tanzania, to enhance comprehensive training in the ASM sector. Initially, Sabai’s project was the outcome of his RAP. However, the Government’s plans aligned with his intentions, and both parties could benefit from each other’s objectives. “It was part of my RAP, and I have found that it coincides with Government’s plan. However, Government’s plans cannot be achieved without proper stirrers, like me” says Sabai.

Not only will these centres complement theoretical training with practical skills, but they have become case studies for other countries. The World Bank plans to establish similar centres of excellence in countries such as Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda to share challenges, successes, strategies and solutions towards the formalisation of the ASM sector in the region.

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