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Handling uncertainty: Policy and organizational practices in Tanzania's small-scale gold mining sector

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Small-scale mining supports the livelihoods of several hundred thousand rural households in Africa. Nonetheless, the understanding of the organizational dynamics of small-scale miners' activities is modest. The paper outlines the small-scale mining codes in Tanzania and contrasts them to prevalent organizational practices in two Tanzanian small-scale mining settlements. It is argued that there is a need to adjust the regulatory mechanisms to well-consolidated practices: If basic practices differ substantially from official prescriptions of the mining codes over an extended period of time, certain elements of the regulatory framework need reconsideration. The paper examines three pertinent operational components that vary in form and managing practices between the two study sites: dealing with licence acquisition, accessing working capital, and sharing output. These components are considered vital for the proper manoeuvring of local small-scale mining operators and the reasons for the variations are essential to understand for policymakers and development practitioners. By incorporating prevalent practices and context-dependent variations in some of the crucial organizational components, it is possible to design a robust and resilient regulatory framework for small-scale mining. A number of policy adjustments are consequently proposed.

Keywords: Artisanal and small-scale mining; Gold; Mining codes; Organizational practices; Policy; Tanzania

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Geology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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