Using Data to tell the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Story

January 30, 2017

  • A new global artisanal and small-scale mining database aims to make data available for governments, policy makers, academics, industry, and the general public to communicate the sector’s positive contributions to global development.
  • The World Bank and Pact launched the initiative, calling on all interested stakeholders to share their data.

Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) provides a critical livelihood for millions of people across the world. And Artisanal miners produce a significant portion of the world’s minerals and gemstones, often enduring difficult and hazardous working conditions.

However, the true impact of their labor is relatively unknown due to limited and accessible data on the sector. This has an impact on the sector’s development, and often perpetuates a narrative that ASM is inherently bad for the environment and developing communities.

“Without accurate data we will never be able to truly determine how much the ASM sector plays in the lives of millions of people around the globe,” said Sheila Khama, Practice Manager for the World Bank’s Energy & Extractive Industries Global Practice. “We believe that with better data the true story of the sector’s social, environmental, and economic impact can be told.”

To bridge the data divide, the World Bank has partnered with Pact to develop DELVE, a platform for artisanal and small-scale mining data that is being piloted in 2017.

DELVE will rely on data contributions from various stakeholders. In its initial year, the platform will focus on a select few high-impact data sets to showcase ASM’s positive impact on sustainable development.

" A world where everyone owns their future is Pact’s vision. Artisanal miners are marginalized in so many ways, however an open, comprehensive and reliable database that clarifies and highlights the scale and scope of the sector, will make a critical contribution to efforts to better serve them. Pact is committed to making this partnership with the World Bank, and hopefully many other organizations, a success "

Christian Loucq

Chief Operating Officer, Pact

At a launch event in Washington, DC, participants discussed including data, such as employment statistics disaggregated by country and gender, global trade volumes disaggregated by country of origin and commodity, and national revenue contributions as potential starting points for data sharing. Ultimately, however, choice of data sets will be iterative: relying on discussions with stakeholders.

An important DELVE feature will be the annual “State of the ASM Sector Report” that will showcase the work of organizations collecting data on the sector and aggregating this data for discussions on ASM’s development at a global level.

In 2017 the Delve team will focus on gathering collaborators around the table to develop data-sharing MOUs and a data quality assurance checklist to govern the input and use of data. With this MOU secured by late 2017, DELVE will be officially piloted throughout 2018 to test the platform’s ability to aggregate and showcase data, culminating in the first annual “State of the ASM Sector Report”.

The database will give:

  • Governments a means to monitor and manage their domestic ASM sector and the ability to analyze economic, social and environmental impacts that can inform policy decisions in the future.
  • Multilateral organizations the ability to monitor the progress of initiatives and interventions in the sector, understand the challenges it faces and allocate resources based on this information.
  • Private sector a gateway to critical information to ensure transparency of supply chains and ways to collaborate better with partners on corporate social responsibility.
  • Artisanal and small-scale miners a resource that showcases their work and builds the case for robust resource allocation.
  • Media, academia and CSOs access to accurate data, and transparent information on local, regional and global levels.