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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 more than 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.


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.

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.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Gender in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Training Workshop for Nigeria

A workshop covering gender equality and related issues in ASM for key officials in Nigeria.

Gender in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Training Workshop for Nigeria

A capacity-building workshop for government officials in Nigeria focused on artisanal and small-scale mining and gender.

Modernizing Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: Harnessing new technologies for sustainable developmen

How will emerging technologies affect the artisanal and small-scale mining sector?

ASGM Tailings Management and Reprocessing Governance: Global trends

Report outlining technical aspects of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), examining existing governance frameworks and providing recommendations for policy-makers to improve a

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.