Transactions that Work

posted by Eduard Cornew

Mwamba, supported by WAZI, purchases ore from partner ASGM miners.  Learn how transactions are carefully structured to meet the needs of miners.


A key behavioral-challenge is the need for trust around the pricing of ore. Most small-scale miners are unfamiliar with the metallurgical testing technology used to test the gold content of ore. Mwamba relies on this technology to price ore, posing a trust barrier with small-scale miners. Mwamba has attempted to solve for this by including a jaw crusher and splitter in its ore pickup truck design. Together these allow Mwamba to generate two representative samples of each ore-batch. Miners are left with one of the two samples so that the ore’s measured gold content can be cross-validated in the event of a pricing dispute. We anticipate that technology demonstration units may be needed to instate baseline trust in metallurgical testing for the control sample strategy to succeed.


Miners are in a constant liquidity crisis, yet metallurgy takes 1-3 days to complete. We intend to accommodate liquidity needs of miners by paying miners an assumed 1 gram of gold per ton of ore at pickup, and the rest via digital payment once metallurgy is complete. With time the initial payment will increase to match a conservative average of past transactions.

Equipment Loans

Another challenge to ore-purchasing is the lack of familiarity many small-scale miners have with cyanide leaching processing technology. This makes it hard for miners to conceptualize how Mwamba can price their ore on less than its full gold content and still help them increase their profits. This understanding requires the knowledge that mercury yields only about 30% of available gold, and that cyanide leaching can yield upwards of 90%. Tanzanian government has conducted Technology Demonstration Units to communicate the benefits of cyanide leaching technology to ASGMs. We may look to implement similar programs to show the comparatively yield of each processing method.

While Mwamba’s primary mission is to eliminate mercury in ASGM, its overarching goal is to improve the sustainability of the sector. To this end, Mwamba offers participating miners equipment loans needed to improve the safety and efficiency of their mining activities. Mwamba believes equipment-loans will help overcome trust barriers that often hinder the success of ASGM interventions. Miners are more aware of the productivity benefits of excavation equipment than they are the productivity benefits of modern processing technologies. Offering miners equipment loans provides an added monetary incentive for miners to participate in Mwamba’s ore purchasing programs will they are still yet to experience the marginal productivity of modern processing technologies first hand.

Eduard Cornew

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