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Geological information and the potential of deposits

Decision-making criteria for the macroeconomic assessment of small-scale mining


In numerous developing countries, artisanal and small-scale mining generates considerable economic and social benefit, not restricted solely to the revenues from resource extraction. Studies on gold in Burundi and Mongolia point to significant value added and employment, from the mine through to export of the products. Much the same applies to value chains in the artisanal production of tin, tungsten and coltan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Small-scale mining provides local jobs, and in rural areas with no alternative employment opportunities it is therefore hugely important economically. At the same time, small-scale mining is often accompanied by damage to the environment, large numbers of accidents and risks to health.

In light of this situation, the way the state deals with small-scale mining in developing countries is often reactive. That said, there are a range of realistic options for action that can considerably reduce the risks associated with this type of mining. The focus here is on efforts to formalise artisanal and small-scale mining. State action in this field has the following objectives:

  • protect the miners and the local population from environmental hazards and harm to health;
  • mitigate human rights risks;
  • decouple small-scale mining from crime and armed conflict;
  • improve local living conditions and earning potential..

To facilitate supervision of small-scale mining, separate areas are designated for this activity in numerous partner countries. Based on experience gained in selected countries, the Extractives and Development sector programme therefore develops procedures that enable such small-scale mining zones to be identified, designated and administered.  The aim is to give state institutions in partner countries appropriate instruments and realistic options for action when dealing with small-scale mining. It can also help partner countries to estimate the costs and the benefits arising from the greater formalisation of artisanal and small-scale mining.

The sector programme also supports two pilot measures, in which it aims to help the partner countries develop a government strategy for identifying small-scale mining zones and choose suitable options for designating and administering them.

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