EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution edition:13 location:Tallinn date:31 July - 3 August 2014
Tanzania's artisanal gold mining sector is rapidly undergoing socio-economic changes prompted by the recent re-introduction of gold cyanidation practices. Cyanidation (or leaching) plants are currently mushrooming around mining settlements, with operators eager to buy up miners' tailings and extract gold particles through extraction processes using cyanide. Miners see leaching plants as a positive addition to the sector because of their value-adding potential to a commodity that has previously been difficult to capitalise on. In the highly competitive rush for tailings, knowledge, experience and skills are powerful tools, and access to capital paramount. This paper presents an investigation of the organisational structures and knowledge transfer practices within operating tailings companies in Tanzania. The focus of the paper is the booming tailings industry in Chunya District, a flourishing artisanal gold processing centre in southwest Tanzania. The paper shows how plant operators must constantly balance issues of risk, trust and speculation to stay successful in the leaching industry and explores how these emerging actors are fundamentally recasting well-established networks, social dynamics and not least the environmental landscape in Tanzania's artisanal mining settlements.