|Environmental Impacts of Small Scale Mining (CEEST, 1996, 62 p.)|
|2. Artisanal Mining Activities|
Artisanal mining activities in Tanzania are characterized by the following factors:-
(i) Many artisanal miners are individuals or families who typically have no mining rights, no mining plans and invariably prefer to sell their products in the parallel market.
(ii) Some mine operators are in possession of legal rights entitling them to carry out mining operations. These are mainly claim holders who normally engage subcontractors to dig pits for winning ore.
(iii) Most mining is done near surface but there are many pits whose depth is in excess of 100-150 metres.
(iv) Activities are predominantly associated with high value, low volume products (i.e high grade low tonnage deposits with no proven reserves).
(v) A large cross-section of the miners are unskilled and possess no formal education, and have limited technical and financial capabilities.
(vi) Mining is undertaken haphazardly and mines abandoned in favour of areas with more potential. The risk element is extremely high.
(vii) Mining and ore beneficiation is done using the most rudimentary and backward of technologies (involving the use of picks, shovels, motor axles, wooden mortar, grinding rocks and sluice boxes). When more advanced technologies are used, which occurs to a lesser extent, one is likely to find compressors, jackhammers and the use of explosives. Pumps are a scarce commodity despite the presence of large amounts of water in the pits. This kind of technology results in inefficient mining practices and low recoveries as well as the loss of foreign exchange.
(viii) Mining communities in these areas have little or no regard for sanitation, health, or safety and have no knowledge whatsoever of the environmental hazards caused by their activities.
(ix) The positive aspects of artisanal mining include increases in rural employment and incomes, and until recently, artisanal mining was the source of major fiscal benefits to the Government - all of which stimulate the local economy. It is estimated that more than 300, 000 Tanzanian miners and their families depend on artisanal mining for part of their livelihood.
(x) Artisanal mining is a precursor to formal mining (be it medium or large scale), as it forms the first step in mineral exploration and frequently provides basic geological information to industrial mining concerns.