A Student Development Experience in a Development Context

When Poverty Strikes: Gold Mining in Tanzania



Two words to describe our stay in Tanzania could be safe and lovely.  Never have any of us felt threatened or even uncomfortable, and the landscapes and people are wonderful.  We are met with joy and curiosity when we walk the streets, never haste.  But the two articles above uncover the underside of this beautiful country.

After reading these articles we felt enraged as we were reminded of the poverty and conflict surrounding gold mining. The articles remind us that not every place in Tanzania is safe and peaceful, but rather in some parts of Tanzania, peoples’ lives are constantly being altered and threatened by large corporate investment.

Conflict has raged in Tarime (Northern Tanzania, north of Bunda which is another of CPAR’s impact areas) for years. The Barrick Gold (A Canadian gold mining company, the largest in the world) mine in Tarime is one of those sources.  As rock is tossed and turned by Barrick’s machinery, villagers flock to the mine to sort through the waste rock to gather bits of gold that can be sold for some money.

There are many questions and concerns surrounding these articles; corruption, human rights, land ownership, human displacement, accountability of government and corporations as material development and profit seeking seem to trump human development. One of the comments on the globe and mail website stated:

“$14 million for building a wall around the waste rock? It’s time to connect the dots, I bet schools around the mining area don’t have desks and hospitals are lacking essential drugs while roads are not passable…and mining pollutants drain into the rivers. Where are the profits going? Despite of all this wealth, the National budget is totally relying on foreign aid… a “remittance” from our gold! Tanzania my lovely country, enough is enough, it’s time to wake up!”

We will be following up this blog post when we visit the small-scale mining site in Bunda. Clearly after reading these articles, there are many complex political and economic dimensions to consider.

We would like to open the forum to comments and questions on these two articles.

– Katherine & Scott



One response

  1. Sarah S.

    Very interesting. I suggest reading up on the 11-year conflict between the R.U.F. and military in Sierra Leone in the production of Blood Diamonds. Another case of the “resource curse”. It really does make you question where commodities come from and the minerals that go into them, whether that be diamonds, gold, copper, etc. Thanks for the article postings!

    June 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm

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