Artisanal and Small-­‐scale Mining (ASM) activities form a major source of income for a very large number of households in developing countries. Artisanal mining is unpleasant and laborious. Consequently, almost all artisanal miners are driven to this activity through poverty. Their legal rights to the deposits they mine are often at best ill-­‐defined. Employees in small scale mines are generally slightly better off in terms of wages, working conditions and non-­‐wage benefits, such as pension and other social security provisions. Legal rights may be better defined. Whilst both types of mining have the potential to alleviate poverty, even if in a small way, ASM activities often raise serious environmental concerns, as when mercury is used to leach gold. Much of the academic discussion of the ASM sector has rightly emphasized legal, health, safety and environmental issues. Less attention has been paid to the livelihood impacts of these activities. Hilson (2006) wrote: “Prolonged neglect of the sector’s poverty and broader socioeconomic issues has … rendered promising policy and support initiatives ineffective.” He goes on to argue that the relationship between poverty and the ASM sector is more complex than is generally admitted. These issues therefore merit greater attention both from the academic and policy communities.

Price Volatility and Price Risk in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Industry

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Document Type: report

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  • Christopher L. Gilbert

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Date: 2013

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Artisanal and Small-­‐scale Mining (ASM) activities form a major source of income for a very large number of households in developing countries. Artisanal mining is unpleasant and laborious. Consequently, almost all artisanal miners are driven to this activity through poverty. Their legal rights to the deposits they mine are often at best ill-­‐defined. Employees in small scale mines are generally slightly better off in terms of wages, working conditions and non-­‐wage benefits, such as pension and other social security provisions. Legal rights may be better defined. Whilst both types of mining have the potential to alleviate poverty, even if in a small way, ASM activities often raise serious environmental concerns, as when mercury is used to leach gold. Much of the academic discussion of the ASM sector has rightly emphasized legal, health, safety and environmental issues. Less attention has been paid to the livelihood impacts of these activities. Hilson (2006) wrote: “Prolonged neglect of the sector’s poverty and broader socioeconomic issues has … rendered promising policy and support initiatives ineffective.” He goes on to argue that the relationship between poverty and the ASM sector is more complex than is generally admitted. These issues therefore merit greater attention both from the academic and policy communities.

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