Navigating the Potential of the ASM Sector

The background of the artisanal mining activities in Tanzania evidences significant structural framework adjustments intended to strengthen this economic subsector. Even though the said adjustments indicate success in revenue collection on the Government’s part, there seem to be governance, accountability, inclusivity and sustainability gaps.

Since 2015 and shortly after the installation of the 5th phase Government, the United Republic of Tanzania has shown an intent to strengthen the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) sector. This can be seen in the different legal and policy provisions such as the Tanzanian Mineral Policy of 2009 which support and promotes development of the ASM sector by encouraging investment into the sector.

Moreover, there are deliberate efforts made by the 5th phase Government through focused initiatives to start a formal public and ASM stakeholder engagements. Through the Ministry of Minerals, there has been a national gathering (January 2019), and an international conference (February 2020) bringing stakeholders together to discuss the sustainability of the extractive sector, which includes the ASM subsector.

In the aforementioned meeting, a plethora of issues were raised by the miners for the Government to consider and offer lasting solutions. These included:

  1. the informality of the ASM sector that has negative spill over effects on the sector.
  2. slow process of formalisation process of the ASM sector
  • lack of geological data on the areas where primary mining licenses (PMLs) are provisioned for ASM activities
  1. lack of financing for ASM sector operators
  2. lack of a structured sector where there is a win-win environment between brokers, Government and miners, and
  3. lack of meaningful participation of women in the sector.

A report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development[i], released in 2018, on the Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), shows an increase in numbers of people working in the ASM sector from 6,000,000 in 1993 to 40,500,000 in 2017 worldwide. The latter statistics are supported by the recent report by the World Banks supported Extractives Global Programmatic Support[ii] (EGPS).

A recent mapping activity carried out by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS)[iii], indicates that, in Tanzania alone, not even the whole country but in the north of the country, covering Mara, Geita and Shinyanga Regions, there are a total of a total of 337 Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) operators. This signals a significant growth in the ASM sector within the Tanzanian country context. This may also signal increase in the rates of informality by numbers of operators, and rush incidents.

The informality in the sector comes with a range of negative social, economic and environmental issues. This has led to the recent changes in the legislation that would enhance monitoring and enforcing of the same laws, and establish inclusive and progressive governance responses.

Informality and loose regulation of the sector has been instrumental in placing ASM operators at a disadvantage with regards to accessing financing from financial institutions. This have left the operators in the ASM sector in Tanzania to the mercy of opportunistic business people who offer financing and equipment to the ASM individual operators in exchange for produce at a throw-away price. This has led to miners and their families into a poverty cycle they cannot shake off.

Another aspect of informality that makes artisanal and small-scale miners plunge deeper into the poverty cycle is “low levels of technology and technical expertise, as well as poor geo-prospecting [which] leads to low productivity and recovery of minerals, as well as negative environmental and health impacts”[iv]. It is a vicious poverty cycle!

Unfortunately, with such a cycle, the potential for bottom-up development in the ASM areas is thwarted.

While it remains a fact that ASM sectoral activities cannot be wished away in Tanzania, there is a need to focus on strengthening initiatives and popularizing policies that support the sector. This way, many of the negative social, economic and environmental impacts could be mitigated and eventually be reduced. Such a scenario desperately needs a consideration on the following areas:

  1. education and technical training (human, organizational, technical and business skills)
  2. access to finance
  3. allocation of geologically surveyed areas for ASM activities
  4. provision of support services
  5. the place, visibility and the contribution of Women in ASM
  6. efficient and effective monitoring and enforcement of legal frameworks, and
  7. continued multistakeholder dialogue to always keep the challenges in check.

The ASM Development Meeting Series

The ASM Development Partners’ Meeting Series is FADev’s signature initiative aiming at bringing together key stakeholders of interest annually, to:

  1. highlight milestones and best practices in the ASM landscape within the Tanzanian context and globally
  2. discuss challenges, gaps and opportunities in the ASM sector, and
  3. offer a platform for ASM stakeholders to progressively identify where they can make the best input towards the improvement of the ASM sector. This will enable the sectoral activities to:
    1. improve lives of the miners and their communities
    2. act responsibly towards the environment, and
  • contribute national coffers.

To deliberate on the above and generate, even more insights, join us on June 30, 2021 for this exciting one-day event Christened: “Navigating the Potential of the ASM Sector”.

Precautionary measures:

Due to instructions from the Ministry of Health, to take precautions given the unprecedented times we are in owing to Coronavirus Pandemic, the in-person meeting will be limited to 70 persons. We encourage virtual participation.

Please, follow this link: https://forms.gle/KRnKhvS35fFRa6ck8 to register.




[i] Morgane Fritz 2018, Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM): A review of key numbers and issues. The International Institute for Sustainable Development. Accessed at: https://www.iisd.org/library/global-trends-artisanal-and-small-scale-mining-asm-review-key-numbers-and-issues

[ii] Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS), Annual Report 2020. Accessed at:


[iii] Hans Merket 2019, Mapping artisanal and small-scale mining in northwest Tanzania: A survey on its nature, scope and impact https://ipisresearch.be/publication/mapping-artisanal-small-scale-mining-northwest-tanzania/

[iv] Extractive Hub, Artisanal and Small-scale Mining. Accessed at https://www.extractiveshub.org/topic/view/id/1Commissioned/chapterId/412

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