June 02, 2020

Emergency Support Needed for Artisanal/Small Scale Miners

83% of the world’s mining workforce relies on Artisanal and Small Scale mines for their livelihood. That comes to roughly 40.5 million people. These people were vulnerable before COVID-19 and even more so now. As gold prices rise, so does exploitation and violence for these miners.

We call on industry, government and civil society to urgently work together to support and protect these vulnerable communities.

Introduction to Artisanal & Small Scale Gold Mining

The artisanal and small-scale (ASM) mining sector has seen tremendous growth over the past decade. This report will look at some of the key themes seen in this sector, comparing data collected from GDL refiners with statistics collated by Metals Focus.

According to their market analysis, ASM gold production has risen from around 400 tonnes in 2010 to an estimated 560 tonnes last year, with growth averaging 3.6% per annum.

To put this into perspective, over the same timeframe, global gold mine production (covering both formal and informal supplies) has risen by a more modest 2.4% per annum, from 2,794 tonnes in 2010 to an estimated 3,467 tonnes in 2019.

Despite the substantial volume of ASM gold being delivered to the market, it is perhaps surprising the small quantity of this material that is being processed by LBMA GDL Refiners. The reason for this is that, even though the LBMA looks to encourage refiners to engage with responsible ASM Miners, it is often reputationally risky to do so.

ASM: an opportunity for GDL refiners?