BRUSSELS, June 23, 2022 — The World Bank and Belgium today launched a new regional partnership to boost efforts to responsibly manage artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), increase public domestic revenues, and improve livelihoods in poor rural communities.
The EGPS ASM Sahel Associated Trust Fund (EGPS ASM Sahel) will contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction in resource-rich developing countries in the Sahel Region (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal). EGPS ASM Sahel will support state- and non-state actors in the Sahel to manage their mineral resources in a transparent, sustainable, inclusive, and gender-sensitive manner.
ASM provides direct jobs to over 44 million people in more than 80 countries and an estimated 134 million people who work in industries that support the sector. In the Sahel, the sector is the second-largest source of employment after agriculture. According to recent estimates, more than 2 million people are directly involved in artisanal gold mining in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. ASM generates significant revenue, which contributes to local and national economies. More than $8 billion of value is produced annually in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and Sudan alone. ASM can play a major role in local community development by providing additional revenues that increase purchasing power, funds for local infrastructure and increased business opportunities.
“Despite the sector’s significant potential for inclusive and sustainable growth to the benefit of the people, much remains to be done to give ASM the place it deserves on the sustainable development agenda of the Sahel. EGPS ASM Sahel will help create a better managed and more responsible ASM that can bolster domestic resource mobilization for economic growth in the region and lead to poverty reduction and social protection,” said Belgium Director General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Heidy Rombouts.
ASM is associated with some of the most intractable challenges in the Sahel. This includes pressure on the environment, severe health and safety risks for artisanal miners, social protection and child labor, migration, illicit financial flows and trade of minerals, and multidimensional causes of fragility and the destabilizing effects that come with it.
"Formalizing the largely informal artisanal and small-scale mining sector is a key priority to improve human rights, protect miners, mitigate environmental impacts, reduce smuggling, and bring more transparency to countries' revenues from their mineral wealth," said Demetrios Papathanasiou, World Bank Global Director for Energy and Extractives. "We are grateful to our committed partners such as Belgium to help pave the way for a more transparent, sustainable, and inclusive sector.”
Addressing the complex issues faced by ASM in the Sahel requires an integrated strategy to manage ASM as a formal economic activity. This integrated strategy will involve supporting countries' efforts to enact clear and coherent legal, regulatory, institutional, and fiscal frameworks that provide artisanal miners with legal protection, security of tenure and access to land. It will also put emphasis on decentralized implementation at the local level to significantly improve the administration of the sector.
EGPS ASM Sahel will support technical assistance, building government capacity, and providing financing to help reorient policies to create incentives for responsible artisanal and small-scale mining. It will also focus on enhancing environmental protection rules as well as health, safety and environmental (HSE) standards and practices; help strengthen the role, representation, and security of women in ASM; and promote mechanisms to avoid child labor in ASM communities, while facilitating a better understanding of ASM at all levels of government and among miners and their communities to enable informed decisions by all stakeholders.
EGPS ASM Sahel builds on previous experiences of the World Bank and other organizations. The trust fund will prioritize the participation of communities and vulnerable groups in projects, plus partner with the private sector to focus on ASM supply chains from the mining pits to the export markets and mobilize additional resources.
Belgium, the seed funder for EGPS ASM Sahel, is contributing 2 million Euros to kickstart the program. This commitment underscores Belgium's strong focus on alleviating the plight of artisanal miners and their communities. The goal is to ultimately raise about US$50 million for EGPS ASM Sahel.