Livelihoods – Artisanal Miners
World Bank :: 2021 :: 170 pages
The 2020 State of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector is a collaboration between the World Bank’s Extractives Global Programmatic Support Multi-Donor Trust Fund and Pact. The 2020 State of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector report examines ASM’s contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG8): “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” The 2020 Report builds on the 2019 State of the ASM Sector Report to close the ‘global data gap’ facing the artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
Collectively, ASM makes up the world’s largest mining workforces, employing an estimated 44.75 million people globally.
Employment generation is likely ASM’s most universally acknowledged and defining feature. Since the 1980s, low educational and financial barriers to entry alongside easy recruitment from peers has made ASM a burgeoning economic activity in rural areas across the world. The ability of ASM to offer income in rural and impoverished settings, to propel global economic growth through mineral trade, and its high degree of informality, should motivate the international community to imagine the remarkable potential, if properly formalized, for more productive employment and decent work opportunities for tens of millions of people worldwide.
60 percent of ASM countries do not have published data on female participation in the sector.
The 2020 Report shows how women remain largely invisible in the data on ASM. Yet, as powerfully outlined in the case studies, women make up significant portions of the ASM workforce and suffer from specific forms of workplace discrimination. Adverse side effects of mercury use, unequal pay for similar work, sexual harassment, and inability to own land or mining titles without permissions are but some of the ways in which women’s decent work outcomes are hampered. Advancing gender equality with respect to SDG8 and ASM is possible but measures are needed to close the gender data gap.
The world’s large-scale mining industry was once as unsafe as artisanal and small-scale mining.
Using a fatality frequency rate model, the report found that the ASM sector had similar fatality rates in 1999 as USA’s and South Africa’s large-scale mining industries did in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Increased mechanization and concerted efforts to improve occupational health and safety (OHS) by governments and industrial mining companies has since led to dramatic safety improvements leading the industry to become one of the world’s most safety conscious, with a fatality frequency rate today of near zero (0.04). If the same efforts to improve the decent work agenda for industrial mining over the past 40 years were applied to ASM, the OHS record of the ASM sector could equally improve. This landmark finding challenges the fatalistic notion that ASM is inherently unsafe and makes improved OHS in ASM a collective responsibility which is both feasible and beneficial to all, raising the prospect for galvanized global efforts to save lives and provide decent work.
Better data on ASM’s economic contributions through improved national statistics can prove the value of ASM to national and global growth.
The ASM sector is an engine of economic development in many rural contexts but due to its largely informal nature, its economic importance is often unrecognized in the SDG8 agenda. Data which underscore the economic importance of ASM are critical to understanding the ways in which finances fuel the sector’s production and growth, create linkages to other industries, and crucially, bolster the case for formalizing and supporting its activities. More disaggregated economic data are needed to showcase ASM’s economic contributions. National reporting and accounting systems are critical instruments in this regard, but there are only a few examples where ASM’s contributions to labor, revenues, and exports can be effectively measured (e.g. Guyana, Rwanda, Central African Republic, and Tanzania).
WASHINGTON, May 4, 2021 — A new World Bank and Pact report finds that better working conditions can improve productivity, health, and safety for the over 44 million artisanal miners across 80 countries. The report outlines solutions to improve occupational health and safety, social protection, and fair labor standards for the artisanal and small-scale (ASM) sector and at least 134 million people who are estimated to work in industries that support the sector.
The report, “2020 State of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector,” examines artisanal and small-scale mining’s contribution to achieving the SDG8: promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. The report finds that informality of the sector, an ongoing problem that affects around 90 percent of ASM activity, leaves artisanal workforces around the globe exposed to dangerous working conditions. From landslides to mercury exposure to intense manual rock crushing, miners enter the work site most days under-protected. These vulnerabilities have only been heightened by the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Artisanal miners saw reduced incomes resulting from temporary mine closures, a drop in mineral prices, and reduced access to work caused by severe disruptions of global mineral supply chains which rely on ASM-sourced materials.
“The poor working conditions faced by artisanal workers have been disproportionately compounded further by their vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic due to limited access to health and social infrastructure. The commitment of governments and companies to ensuring their health, safety and well-being is now more important than ever,” said Demetrios Papathanasiou, World Bank Global Director for Energy and Extractives. “This new report demonstrates how holistic approaches to improve the working conditions of artisanal miners can boost sustainable and inclusive growth, with greater job creation and poverty reduction.”…