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Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) ranges from informal individual miners earning a subsistence livelihood to more formal and regulated small-scale entities producing minerals commercially.

ASM provides a livelihood for about 40 million people, with an additional 150 million individuals across 80 countries depending on the sector indirectly.

However, ASM operations often can lack legal status, environmental safeguards, health and safety measures, and economic security for miners. If left unchecked, ASM can contribute to environmental pollution, community health concerns, and human rights issues.

There is a pressing need to enhance the quality of life for miners working outside of the formal economic system while enhancing ASM’s potential to bring benefits to affected communities.

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Developing Gender-Specific Policies for Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

Women make up an estimated 50% of the global ASM workforce but continue to face gendered barriers to full participation.

Discrimination can lead to women being excluded from better-paid roles while reinforcing the gender pay gap, taking on a disproportionate amount of unpaid work, and lacking access to financing, land, and social services.

  • Launch emergency-focused actions providing urgent relief during conflicts or pandemics
  • Understand how a low-carbon energy transition impacts women in ASM
  • Prepare for how new mining technologies can support women in the sector
  • Advance good gender governance in ASM and empower women as a driving force for sustainable livelihoods, communities, and environments.

Upholding Good Environmental Practices in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

Our efforts to mitigate damage to natural landscapes from ASM operations are informed by our flagship Mining Policy Framework.

We provide governments with capacity-building and technical assistance, events, and publications to develop and implement legal and policy tools to:

  • Reduce deforestation and land degradation to contribute to better environmental management
  • Safeguard community water resources for safe drinking water
  • Prepare for how new mining technologies can support women in the sector
  • Improve the management of toxic substances and eliminate them where possible to support the miners’ and community’s health.
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Providing Governments With the Strategy for Managing Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

We published Guidance for Governments: Managing Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining to provide governments with a step-by-step process on how to develop, implement, and monitor an ASM management strategy. The Secretariat then collaborates with governments in developing national or regional ASM management strategies based on their needs.

We also support governments in generating data from their ASM sector to close governance gaps. Ranging from gender-disaggregated employment to community and environmental impacts, supply chains, and health and security, this data informs policies, laws, and strategies for effective and inclusive ASM management to support rural livelihoods, economic prosperity, and gender equality.

Additional Resources

Illicit Financial Flows and Conflict in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining: Burkina Faso, Mali, a

This report examines artisanal mining in border areas plagued by conflict and presents recommendations for policy-makers in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

Investing in the Women Working in ASM is the Only Way Forward

Any effort to make ASM more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable must address the acute challenges facing women in the sector.

National Workshop on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, Illicit Financial Flows, and Conflict in Nige

This report describes a workshop for government officials in Niger that promoted a national dialogue on ASM governance challenges related to illicit financial flows and conflict.

2021 IGF Annual Report

Our 17th Annual General Meeting was held virtually October 19–20, 2021, with the theme Building Tomorrow Together: Mining for a Responsible and Inclusive Future. Governments, companie

Mining Policy Framework Assessment: Mexico

This assessment report examines Mexico’s mining laws and policies and makes recommendations for policy reform and improvement. The Mexican mining sector is large, diverse, and wel

Gender Responsive Policies in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

The global artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector employs an estimated 45 million people and indirectly supports 150 million. Earlier this year, the IGF Secretariat worked with L

IGF’s New Resources Look at ASM Through a Gender Lens

Two new publications aim to help policy-makers and researchers better understand the difficulties that women face in ASM to support better environmental and social performance in the se

Gender in Mining Governance: An annotated bibliography for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)

An annotated bibliography listing key resources for researchers exploring the topic of gender and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).

Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM)

The report includes three cases studies covering the experiences of women in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Zimbabwe, Peru, and the Philippines before outlining some key prin

2021 IGF Virtual AGM Registration is Open

The theme for the 2021 IGF AGM is Building Tomorrow Together: Mining for a Responsible and Inclusive Future.