Toxic Trade

Goldmines in Tanzania

In Tanzania thousands of people daily risk their lives in small-scale mines to find gold. Many of them work 12 hours per day in insecure 100 meter deep holes. Accidents happen everyday. Mercury is highly toxic for the human body. It is used to extract gold from the soil, but later must be heated and vaporised to seperate it from the gold. This process takes place by hand without any protection by children, women and men in small scale mining places. The effects are deformities of eyes and bodyparts, as well as birth defects, mentally disabled children and cancer.
At the same time the workers arrived, prostitution and trafficking has increased dramatically. Not few of these girls and women have been forced to this work against their will or have been promised a regular work, that in the end did not exist. Some of them are not older than 14 years old. They live and work in small rooms with very limited access to healthcare as they do not have a legal status. Hereby infectious desease rates such as Tuberculosis and HIV have spread drastically. To keep their privacy, their faces are not shown in the pictures.
Beside those illegal goldmines there are professional companies like Canadian Barrick Gold (yearly revenue: 8,374 billion USD), British Acacia Mining (yearly revenue: 663,8 milion USD) & Anglo Gold Ashanti (yearly revenue: 4,254 billion USD) that are exploiting the resources of Tanzania but hardly pay any taxes or no taxes at all, and refuse to cooperate with local authorities.
People have been forced to leave their homes to explore the soil to find more gold. Workers and citizens don’t know about their rights and have no access to the global gold markets. The surrounding of the big mining areas is usually destroyed and intoxicated for all kind of farming activities. The country is among the three biggest gold exporters in Africa, but still remains among the poorest countries worldwide. Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, has announced an export ban for gold to finally force these companies and their governments to show responsibility and pay fair charges in exchange for the shiny raw material and the damage that is done in the mining regions. The debate is still in progress.

Thank you so much for all your support to all people involved in this project. Special thanks to Neema, Tom & Paul, and the whole team of Shdepha Kahama, as well as all supporters and courageous citizens of Tanzania in Geita, Katoro, Kahama & Shinyanga to speak up about this issue. It would not have been possible without your help.




Exhibtions (See below):
Triennale Hamburg, Germany
Photokina Cologne, Germany
Horizonte Zingst, Photofestival Germany
London Photo Festival, United Kingdom

Published & exhibited in:
Hamburg, Germany
Cologne, Germany
Zingst, Photofestival Germany
London, United Kingdom