Tanzania's mining sector has long been dominated by two opposing scales of operations, large-scale mining (LSM), and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). From the mid-1990s, changing governments promoted LSM as a key sector for the restructuring of the economy through the generation of much needed foreign capital and increased fiscal earnings. However, a gradual shift in policies towards facilitating ASM, linked to the re-emergence of resource nationalism over the last two decades, can be observed. The paper analyses three types of dynamics that have the potential to improve the lot of ASM in Tanzania, namely increased efforts to enforce ASM rights, stronger support programmes, and the emergence of medium-scale miners (MSM) linked to global value-chains with the potential to bridge the gap between ASM and LSM and promote upgrading. Recent resource nationalist legislation also has the potential to promote more pro-ASM business models. This points to the increased political leverage of the ASM sector, which supports people in their millions, driven by electoral politics. However, from an ASM perspective the development is not unambiguous. Registration of rights to some extent remains ‘paper formalization’, the implementation of support programmes has slowed down, and MSM has so far been dominated by investors from emerging markets in partnership with local elites. Experience suggests that the continued emphasis on the redistribution of rights and revenues from foreign LSM may end up benefitting larger domestic business interests and state coffers more than ASM.