Occupying the Margins: Labour Integration and Social Exclusion in Artisanal Mining in Tanzania


  • This article is based on a study funded by the Department for International Development under its Knowledge and Research programme. Findings from this study are presented in Mwaipopo et al. (2005) and Ofei-Aboagye et al. (2004). I would like to thank my fellow researchers, and in particular Rosemarie Mwaipopo, for permission to re-analyse components of the qualitative data. I am grateful for comments on a draft of this article by Alberto Arce, Mary Ann Brocklesby, Gavin Hilson, and the anonymous referees of this journal. The opinions expressed and any errors are the sole responsibility of the author.


This article examines the marginal position of artisanal miners in sub-Saharan Africa, and considers how they are incorporated into mineral sector change in the context of institutional and legal integration. Taking the case of diamond and gold mining in Tanzania, the concept of social exclusion is used to explore the consequences of marginalization on people's access to mineral resources and ability to make a living from artisanal mining. Because existing inequalities and forms of discrimination are ignored by the Tanzanian state, the institutionalization of mineral titles conceals social and power relations that perpetuate highly unequal access to resources. The article highlights the complexity of these processes, and shows that while legal integration can benefit certain wealthier categories of people, who fit into the model of an ‘entrepreneurial small-scale miner’, for others adverse incorporation contributes to socio-economic dependence, exploitation and insecurity. For the issue of marginality to be addressed within integration processes, the existence of local forms of organization, institutions and relationships, which underpin inequalities and discrimination, need to be recognized.