Soda ash mining in Lake Natron, Tanzania


Lake Natron Resources Limited, a company jointly owned by the Government of Tanzania and TATA Chemicals Limited of Mumbai, India proposed to develop a soda ash facility at Lake Natron in the Arusha Region of Tanzania in 2006.The company plannned to construct a soda ash extraction and processing plant and associated infrastructure, a coal fired power station, road and rail links, and others at Lake Natron to produce 0.5 million tonnes of soda ash per year The plans have attracted concern and condemnation from around the world, sparking an advocacy campaign in early 2007 that led to the formation of the Lake Natron Consultative Group consisting of 48 member institutions in May 2007. Lake Natron is designated as a Ramsar site and is a crucially important breeding site for the Lesser Flamingo, with nearly all of East Africas estimated 1.5 - 2.5 million of this bird (75% of the world population) having been hatched at Lake Natron. The Lesser Flamingo is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List 2007, as it is vulnerable to disturbance or ecological change at a small set of key sites.

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Basic Data
NameSoda ash mining in Lake Natron, Tanzania
ProvinceNorthern Tanzania
SiteArusha District
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral processing
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesSoda Ash
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe company plans to produce 0.5 million tonnes of soda ash per year. The plant will have associated infrastructure, including a new tarmac road, living accommodations for an estimated 1,225 construction workers and 152 permanent staff and their families. In addition, the plant will consume 11.5 megawatts of power and utilise 106,000 litres of fresh water per hour. At this rate, the plant will consume 1,600,000 litres of water within 10 hours which is sufficient to meet a days needs for the 40,000 livestock in Magadi division. Fresh water is extremely scarce in this area; coming from the Ewaso Nyiro river system in Kenya and Pinyiny, Moinik and Ngare Sero rivers in Tanzania. Abstraction of such huge amounts of fresh water will therefore create a water crisis in the border area. As things stand, the water supply is not sufficient to meet domestic, wildlife and livestock and the proposed plant will completely destabilise any existing balance.

Project Area (in hectares)125,000
Level of Investment (in USD)450000000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date05/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesTata Group from India - through Lake Natron Resources Ltd National Development Corporation of Government of Tanzania (Tanzania)
Relevant government actorsTanzanian Government; National Environment Management Authority;Uganda Wildlife Society;; Kenya Wildlife Service
International and Financial InstitutionsCorporación financiera Internacional (CFI)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNature Kenya; BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat; African Conservation Centre;Born Free Foundation; Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Law (CREEL; Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE;Djibouti Nature; East African Wildlife, Environmental Liaison Centre Intl.;, Ethiopia Wildlife and Natural History Society;Forum for Environment (Ethiopia);Game Rangers Association of Africa;Horn of Africa - Regional Environment Centre/Network; Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia;, Ilkisongo Pastoralist Initiatives;, Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET);, Kenya Alliance of Residents Association; Kenya Community Based Tourism Network (KECOBAT;, Kenya Water and Sanitation Network (KEWASNET;Kenya Wetlands Forum (KWF); Lake Naivasha Riparian Association; Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT); Tanzania, Maa Civil Society Forum;Miliru-Bushi Organization Kenya;Nature Uganda;, PIBI Biological Research Foundation;South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO; The Heritage Society; Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK); Wildlife for Sustainable Development, Youth For Conservation
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood
Otherloss of revenue from tourism
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesMore studies to be done on the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the project.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Even though Tata Chemicals Limited pulled out, the Tanzanian government is committed to the project and continues to build the necessary infrastructure to enable the project kick off
Sources and Materials

The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania; The Environmental Management Act 2004; The Tourism Act 2008; The Wildlife Conservation Act 2009; Water Resources Management Act 2009.


(1)Think Pink campaign ( )
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Factory may destroy Natural Wonder:
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Meta Information
ContributorSerah Munguti
Last update08/04/2014