Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is a vital livelihood practice for many people across the world, especially in the Global South. In Tanzania, millions of people depend on ASM and many of these in Geita, the main gold mining region of Tanzania. Yet, it is a sector characterised by unsustainable practices, unequal distribution of profit, and a non-transparent value chain. In the sector, formal and informal systems entangle, and multiple actors seek to profit from the commodity.
This research project explores the global-local entanglements within the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector of Tanzania, and how these connections enable, disturb and disrupt flows of information, capital and materials. In particular, the project addresses the issues of sustainability and transparency from a bottom-up perspective. It explores the empowerment potentials of value chain transparency, asking how transparency is understood, utilised and experienced by artisanal and small-scale miners. Moreover, with reference to the sustainable development goals, the project explores how sustainable livelihoods can be achieved in the mining sector where resources are non-renewable.
The research is situated between anthropology and human geography, and based on 6 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Tanzania. The project is part of the European research and training network COUPLED, which seeks to operationalise telecouplings for solving sustainability challenges for land use. Telecoupling describes the interactions between distal human-environmental systems via flows and how these flows manifest in a particular land-use, hence combining place-based and flow-based processes. It is supervised by Prof. Dr. Jonas Østergaard Nielsen and funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Marie-Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765408.
More information about the project can be found on Humboldts 17.
Pedersen, Anna Frohn; Nielsen, Jonas Ø.; Friis; Cecilie; Jønsson, Jesper Bosse (2021): Mineral exhaustion and its livelihood implications for artisanal and small-scale miners. In Environmental Science & Policy 119, pp. 34–43.