Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is a vital livelihood for over 40 million people in developing countries, particularly for those living in remote, rural areas, according to the recent 2019 State of the ASM Sector report. Although it is the most important rural non-farm activity in the developing world, the sector remains under-researched. Its potential to be part of broader development initiatives, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has not been realized.
The World Bank’s Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS) alongside partner Pact, decided to shine a light on this vital sector by creating Delve, a global platform for artisanal and small-scale mining data, with the view that complete, accurate and reliable data is a necessary precondition for any intervention in ASM – whether to formalize the sector, improve the livelihoods of poor people, or empower women working as miners. As the sole database covering artisanal and small-scale mining across the world, Delve is necessary for policymakers and practitioners to take an informed approach to the sector.
In April 2019, the Delve team took a crucial first step, publishing a first of its kind report on artisanal and small-scale mining.
A first of its kind report
The new report explores the impact of the ‘global data gap’ on ASM and outlines how the gap can be narrowed to formalize this global sector. Drawing from online database Delve, the report identifies ways to improve data collection methodologies and presents a shortlist of ‘key data needs’ for the sector. The report features in-depth analysis of the data gaps and importance of ASM through regional and country case studies, including Ghana, Guyana, India, Mongolia, Morocco and Peru.
Regional findings include:
- Sub-Saharan Africa is home to one of the largest numbers of artisanal and small-scale miners in the world, close to an estimated 10 million, with at least a further 60 million reliant on the sector.
- In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 2 million people directly engage in ASM – up from an estimated 650,000 artisanal and small scale miners in 1999, but region-wide moves to collect complementary social and economic information about the sector have been disappointing.
- ASM is a key livelihood strategy for the poor in East Asia and Pacific, with robust data focused on small-scale gold mining
- ASM in South Asia remains in the shadows – though we know it is driven by poverty and heavily tied to subsistence agriculture. Data is urgently needed across South Asia given the region’s widespread poverty – particularly a better understanding of the role the sector plays in alleviating hardship and supporting rural families
“Bridging the data gap is the first step in removing the veil of invisibility from the millions of men and women miners who are integral to our global economy,” said Karen Hayes, Vice President of Pact’s Mines to Markets initiative.