Around 4,000 mine gold ore down the shafts of the small gold mines in Mgusu, Geita, Tanzania. They crush the ore into powder and rinse out the gold using mercury. Wastewater is then released uncontrolled into the environment.
Photos: Jörg Böthling

05.07.2019

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On their quest for gold, multinational corporations are ransacking the north of Tanzania. Local people are losing their land. Many of them are left with no other option but to risk their lives picking gold-bearing rock out of the mine spoil. But some of the smallholders are going back to farming – a way out with an uncertain outcome.

The wall is omnipresent. Mary Mugesi Chacha just has to take a look out of her hut. The concrete slabs are gleaming in the brilliant sunshine. They are protected by glittering barbed wire that two tall fences stand in front of. On a broad pathway between the two fences, patrol cars belonging to the police and the private security firm do their rounds. Behind the wall, a water cannon is standing on one of the spoil tips the size of a tower block reaching skywards. “That’s where our cattle and goats used to graze,” remarks the forty-year-old, knitting her brows glumly. The spoil tips come from the North Mara Gold Mine, operated by the multinational Acacia Mining corporation, a subsidiary of Canada’s Barrick Gold, the largest gold producers in the world. The company only had the walls and fences erected a few months ago, to keeps so-called intruders from climbing up the spoil tips and looking for gold-bearing rocks.

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