A report tracking the growth in artisanal and small-scale mining seeks to address the need for greater regulation. Khai Trung Le talks to Matthew Bliss about what role policy and industry have to play in its development.
A new report from the Intergovernmental Forum of Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) and International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has revealed the recent growth in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), attributed to rising value of mineral prices and the heightened difficulty of earning a living from agriculture and other rural activities. However, the sheer quantity of people involved – estimated at 40.5 million in 2017, up from only 7 million in 2014 – and the informal nature of the work has resulted in a highly diverse sector with varying challenges.
Matthew Bliss, Deputy Director of Programs at IGF, told Materials World that the growth in ASM is linked to families looking to fulfil food, health, and educational needs, but it may face difficulties against the growth in small-scale and semi-mechanised subsector of ASM. He added, ‘Mining offers an opportunity to generate revenue, often paid in cash, both to local residents and those deciding to migrate to ASM areas. Considering these factors, it would not be surprising for growth to continue, especially during moments of rising commodity prices.’