Global Report on Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining
In many parts of the world, artisanal or small-scale mining (ASM) activities are at least as important as large-scale mining activities, particularly in terms of the numbers of people employed. ASM can play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and rural development; most of those involved are poor and mining represents the most promising, if not the only, income opportunity available. However, the sector is perhaps better known for its high environmental costs and poor health and safety record. Many continue to view it as dirty, unprofitable and fundamentally unsustainable.
Irrespective of one’s perspective of whether or not the sector is a net contributor to sustainable development, the fact remains that small-scale and artisanal mining activities will continue for at least as long as poverty continues to necessitate them. It is therefore essential that effort be made to maximise the benefits brought and enabled by small-scale mining, and to mitigate the costs.
According to a recent survey carried out by ILO and MMSD, at present we can reckon with around 13 million people working directly in small mines throughout the world, mainly in developing countries. A large percentage of these miners are women, and regretfully, also children.
The international development community is discussing the ASM sector now for about 30 years. Many changes and progress in issues and research have occurred since then. In the last 10 years the international donor agencies have recognized the close relation of ASM to poverty and the ASM sector is gaining more and more attention. ASM is now in agendas of many national governments and of bilateral and multilateral donor organizations and different assistance programs have been or are carried out. Even one step further actually through the CASM (Collaborative Group on Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining) initiative of the World Bank exists a valuable instrument for donor coordination, experience and information exchange and channelling of funds. There have recently been interesting experiences in the relationship between large and small mines.
This Global Report tries to give a present “photography” of the ASM sector and provides an overview of the sector and a description of its social, environmental and economic issues. The base of information for this report is:
- 18 updated studies in selected countries commissioned by MMSD (Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, China, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines)
- Bibliography research
- Different resource persons
- MMSD workshop on artisanal and small-scale mining on the 19-20 November 2001
- The authors’ experience especially in Latin America and Africa
The report focuses on the major issues in ASM and how the sector may best contribute to sustainable development; therefore special focus is given to the different practical experiences and case studies that have been carried out by assistance programs to the ASM sector during the last ten years.
The second chapter deals with the different definitions and general problems of the sector. The third chapter presents a brief historical review of the changes of issues and priorities regarding the development policy for ASM within the last thirty years. The subsequent chapter summarizes the 18 country studies and the workshop and identifies regional differences and common issues. The next chapter discusses the conditions of livelihood in ASM communities and the contribution of ASM to sustainable development. Chapter 6 addresses the “traditional issues” of ASM like policy, legal, organizational, prolongation of production lines, environment, health and safety, technical and finance. Chapter 7 deals with ASM relevant aspects of mineral economics. Special attention with case studies is given to the relation between large mining operation and ASM in chapter 8. In chapter 9 different new trends as common environmental solutions, networking in the Internet age and fair traded ASM products are highlighted with case studies.