© Eduardo Martino
Gold is mined all over the world either in highly mechanized industrial mines or by artisanal and small-scale miners. While artisanal and small-scale mining is responsible for an estimated 10-20% of global production it employs 90% of the workforce behind gold extraction. It is often performed in rural communities, using simple tools or technologies. It is hard manual work and often a poverty driven activity.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) approximately 10-15 million gold miners and their families are dependent on this economic activity to make a living at a global scale. That is about half of the total amount of artisanal miners in the world. The problem? These miners often work under hazardous and exploitative conditions in mines that contaminate the water and soil of their local communities with little or no possibilities to change their reality.
For this reason artisanal mining has acquired a very negative image as a sector that:
- Fuels conflict
- Employs children
- Destroy the environment
- Uses mercury and cyanide in an irresponsible manner. Read more about how miners use toxic chemicals.
- Does not protect the health and safety of workers
- Traditionally involves great gender inequality
- Exploits miners economically
- Has a negative impact on communities
In spite of all these challenges, this sector has incredible potential to contribute to local and national development in developing countries. This is why the Alliance for Responsible Mining work to transform the sector though holistic strategies that involve the key areas and actors of the mining industry.