Mwanza. Stakeholders working with artisanal miners in Tanzania are not happy with how the media in the East African nation portray small-scale miners in the country, urging them to develop a broad view when covering the sector.
The sentiments were shared here during a two-day knowledge-sharing session organised by the Foundation for Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Development (FADev), a Dar es Salaam-based NGO that works around issues related to Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM).
The session, which took place between August 30 and August 31, 2022, brought together editors of leading media outlets from the Lake Zone region and experts working in the ASM area in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap that exists between the two.
Theonestina Mwasha is FADev Executive Secretary who said during the workshop that media play an important role in knowledge dissemination, urging editors to equip themselves with necessary knowledge so that they can be able to play that role effectively.
“Journalists must be eager to work to help the community and not to put money first,” Mwasha, who is considered to be the first female mineral processing engineer in Tanzania, told editors. “They should help these small-scale miners.”
Ms Mwasha said that her organisation has been at the forefront of promoting the small-scale mining industry in the country, meeting with various stakeholders to discuss the challenges that small-scale miners face and find solutions together.
ASM sub-sector is said to contribute handsomely to the national economy but stakeholders complain that oftentimes this contribution goes unnoticed.
Figures from the government, for example, show that the Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining sub-sector has provided 1.5 million direct jobs, which is more than 90 per cent of the country’s mining labour force.
Also, about 7.2 million people, equivalent to 13 per cent of the population, depend on the sub-sector for their livelihood. This makes the ASM sector a vital source of wealth and capital accumulation in the country.
Dr Abel Kinyondo is a lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam and an ASM expert who decried what he considers to be the “stigmatization” of the ASM sub-sector, calling on journalists and editors to stop perpetuating that stigmatization.
“The sector is stigmatized as criminal, unsafe and environmentally disastrous,” Dr Kinyondo, an authority on ASM issues, said during the workshop. “This has to change.”
“Small-scale mining has more direct benefits to the income of rural communities than the Large Scale Mining (LSM) by big investors,” the expert went on. “Let us start looking seriously at the small-scale mining sector.”
Evans Rubara, FADev Program and Research Manager, said: “Often when stakeholders, like the media, talk about small-scale mining they talk about negative things, such as the environmental degradation and insecurity, and not its economic productivity for the community.”