COMMENT: Artisan tin miners – friend or foe?

Apr 27, 2012 | 05:29 AM |

In Indonesia, they are the enemies of established tin mining companies that have accused them of illegal tin mining. In Brazil, they are the poor wildcat miners that constantly have to play hide-and-seek with the authorities. But in Africa, they are the wild card that determines whether future tin supply can be guaranteed. We are referring of course to the artisan tin miners, the locals who live around areas rich in tin reserves and whose livelihood comes from small-scale mining of tin. Artisan miners have always been a feature of tin mining. By the nature of its foundation, tin allows alluvial mining, which is the digging and sifting through mud, sand, and gravel using shovels, sieves, or even bare hands. Only in some places like Peru, where tin is contained in hard rock, do artisan miners not stand a chance. On Indonesia’s tin-producing island of Bangka, locals have mined in this way since the 1700s. So rich were the tin reserves in the island, people could simply dig the ground and would find tin. Immigrants....

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