“To a large extent, artisanal and small-scale miners remain ignored and marginalised”

Source: Mining Journal

The United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD) has heard policy failings are hurting small-scale miners and damaging the environment, while ignoring an important source of development.

HakiMadini

At a Geneva conference on the sustainable development goals, Yanchun Zhang, a member of the UNCTAD’s special unit on commodities, said the benefits of largely self-guided mining went unacknowledged. 

"As a labour-intensive mining process widely conducted on an informal basis, artisanal and small-scale mining is known to generate jobs, reduce poverty, and provide livelihoods for millions of people," she said.

"To a large extent, artisanal and small-scale miners remain ignored and marginalised by policy makers, donors, and the general public." 

A downside of this marginalisation is lack of regulation, Zhang said. 

"Artisanal gold mining, which accounts for more than 10% of the global gold supply, releases an estimated 1,000 tons of toxic mercury per year," Zhang said. 

Around 15 million gold miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children, are exposed to mercury according to UN figures. 

Small-scale mining was also held up by the UN as a way for people to make money in developing countries, as mainstream mining growth "has often failed to generate any meaningful benefits for the countries’ populations". 

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