Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: Insights from the ground
Delve has organized this dedicated COVID-19 space to share information and resources about the impacts on the ASM sector. The space will also profile initiatives by partners to assist small-scale miners and their communities during the pandemic. We are organizing an exploratory COVID-19 Working Group to further share information. The Working Group's first meeting was convened on April 6th and will continue to share information on an ongoing basis. Sign-up to participate: online form
- Delve is seeking to capture and disseminate insights from artisanal miners and their communities about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them and establish a working group to share ideas, facilitate discussion, and profile initiatives that can directly help.
- The Working Group will use this page to collate and share information and resources on the rapidly evolving situation and impact on communities.
- To share information on this page contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or share on Twitter to @DelveASM using the hashtag #COVID19ASM.
Disclaimer: The situation around COVID-19 is rapidly changing and the information presented here will be updated as often as possible.
Update 15: 20th May 2020
New Analysis, Articles and Events available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- ZELA: Capitalisation of Artisanal and Small Mining In Zimbabwe Post COVID19 Pandemic, COVID-19 Mining Sector Situational Report (3rd Series)
- Artisanal Gold Council: World Gold Trading Hubs Dashboard (updated 14 May), Women and COVID-19 in an artisanal gold mining community: Gender impacts in the Philippines
- Responsible Jewelry Webinars: Gold Supply Chains in the Time of Pandemic (Webinar Recording)
- Gem & Jewellery Industry Webinars: The COVID Effect: Impact on Mining and Mining Communities , Thursday May 21, 2020 , 2:00 PM (GMT +1)
- DPI Mining: Voices from the Field, Perspectives from around the world on how COVID-19 is affecting mining and communities: Prof. Nellie Mutemeri
- Mining Review Africa: Securing a place for artisanal mining post COVID-19
Update 14: 13th May 2020
New Analysis, Articles and Events available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- OECD Civil Society Group: Call to Action signed by over 70 global civil society organizations and community-based associations calling for immediate and concerted action from governments, financing institutions, international organizations, private sector actors and others to support artisanal mining communities and to shore up their resilience in this time of the COVID-19 crisis. Civil Society Call to Action EN, Sociedad Civil Llamado a la Acción ES, Société Civile Appel à l'Action FR
- OECD Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee: COVID-19 Call to Action for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains
- Responsible Jewelry Transformative: The Symposium on Artisanal Small-Scale Gemstone Miners in the Time of Covid-19 , a two day symposium on the gemstone sector of the jewelry industry during the pandemic. Session 1: Grass Roots Initiatives May 13, 2020. Session 2: Global Initiatives May 14, 2020. Register Here
- Artisanal Gold Council: COVID-19 Portal Launched
, Burkina Faso gold prices inch back towards pre-COVID levels
- Financial Express: Covid-19 effect: No wages for Gujarat diamond workers during lockdown
- Mining Zimbabwe: Chegutu Covid-19 case #36 is a small scale miner
- The New Times (Rwanda): How government plans to revive mining sector
- Zimbabwe Daily: Gold production to slump by 29%
Update 13: 30th April 2020
New Analysis and Articles available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- Artisanal Gold Council: Health responses to COVID-19 in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining sector: Mitigating the risk of infiltration, spread and severity, The View from Niger – ASGM Needs a Tailored Response , Update from Indonesia – Planes Grounded, Food Prices Rise
- Human Rights Watch: Don’t Abandon Indigenous People During the Pandemic
- Mining Weekly/IMPACT: DRC artisanal miners face uncertain future as COVID-19 disrupts market
- Mining Weekly: Fears rise for illegal South African miners hiding underground in virus lockdown
- The Star (Kenya): Virus hits small-scale miners in the country
- IPP Media: Bank of Tanzania urged to purchase more gold amid COVID-19 pandemic
- Zimbabwe Standard: COVID-19 fears as gold rush erupts
Update 12: 24th April 2020
New Analysis and Webinars available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- Artisanal Gold Council: Gold Database Extract: Artisanal Gold Prices Pre and Post Covid-19, Images from Indonesia – Miners document life in lockdown, Papua New Guinea – Gold Trading in a Time of Lockdown
- Centre for Natural Resource Governance: Women hit hard by COVID-19
- Gem Legacy: COVID-19 Relief Efforts and Donation Opportunity
- Levin Sources: Six reasons why COVID-19 response planning should prioritise ASM communities
- ITSCI: Response to COVID-19 Outbreak & COVID-19 Prevention & Awareness Leaflets (pdf)
- Planet Gold: COVID-19 Updates and Resources (updated April 21), Indonesia Factsheet: The prevalence of COVID-19 within GOLD-ISMIA’s project locations
- Foundation for ASM Development - Tanzania: "The Voice of the Miners on the Corona Disaster"
Gold Supply Chains in the Time of Pandemic: Resources, Social and Environmental Impacts, and Responsible Practices - Apr 24, 2020 16:00-17:00 (GMT) , Register
Minerals, Materials and Society Webinar, Securing Supply Chains in Times of Crisis - May 1, 2020 13:00-16:00 (GMT). To register contact Patricia Syvrud, MMS Program Manager at email@example.com
Update 11: 21st April 2020
Kenya: COVID-19 impacts on artisanal coral miners and updates on artisanal gold mining communities
Situational update provided by Jorden de Haan (Pact) and Kirsten Dales (independent ASM expert)
ASM Workforce: 140,000 miners, including appr. 40,000 ASGM miners1
COVID-19 Country Status: 281 COVID-19 cases total and 14 deaths (as of 20/04/2020)2
- Suspension of international flights in and out of Kenya extended for 30 days (as of 6 April)
- National curfews prohibiting non-essential movement between 7pm and 5am remain in place
- Cross-border movement into or out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area (as of 6 April), and Kilifi, Kwale, and Mombasa counties is limited for at least 21 days (as of 8 April)
- Nationally, schools and universities remain closed; people are encouraged to work from home
- No social gatherings with >15 people are allowed, social distancing and masks are mandatory for people visiting markets or using public transport
- National Government has extended shut down orders to ‘non-essential businesses’ to the County level, including industrial, artisanal and small-scale mining operations
- Excessive police force used in COVID-19 containment measures, sparking public criticism3,4
Impacts on coral miners
In the Lamu archipelago off Kenya’s Northern coast, artisanal coral mining is an important livelihood in Maweni village, Manda island. Open pit mines in Mangrove and ancient coral beds on the island are manually extracted with pickaxes where coral is then chiseled into bricks – ready to be used as a construction material (see picture above). Given that coral is light but relatively resilient, it is used in combination with cement and wood to construct houses on Manda and Lamu island, and on the mainland of Lamu county. Coral miners in Maweni village have reported the following impacts5:
- Communities continue coral mining as local authorities recognize it is an essential livelihood and no COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lamu county (as of 18 April).
- Buyers still come to Maweni to procure coral, but less regularly than before. At the village level, economic hardship caused by COVID-19 has limited people’s ability to construct new homes and, further limiting demand for coral since the pandemic.
- Due to decreased demand and perceived stable or over supply, prices have dropped from roughly Ksh25 ($0.23USD) before COVID-19 became a global pandemic to Ksh20 ($0.19USD) per brick of coral on 17 April – reflecting a 20% drop.
- Food security and access to clean water have become a serious concern as supply from Lamu island has become less consistent and transport, and trade with Mombasa halted.
- In response to food insecurity and loss of mining revenue, farming activity has increased.
- In general, rural men, women, boys and girls are suffering, they receive no support from the government, and there is widespread ignorance and misinformation around COVID-19.
- This vulnerability may be exacerbated by the proposed Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor Development Authority (LCDA), although its relative impacts remain poorly documented to date.6 Lamu county, specifically Lamu island, is a key node in the proposed LAPSSET corridor, with potentially negative impacts on the neighbouring community of Maweni miners who lack a voice.7
Impacts on gold miners (updates)
The below are updates on gold mining communities Mikei and Lolgorian
Mikei community, Migori county8
- Mining activity continues, despite enforcement:
- Police has forcibly shut down major mine sites such as Matanda in Osiri, however, selected shafts remain active and some return in the absence of alternative sources of income.
- In some of the mines, men descend into shafts at night so as not to be caught by patrolling police, leading to extended risk and more accidents.
- During the day, miners do not enter underground shafts, but miners (and especially women) crush and process ore to recover gold, while looking out for police forces .
- As one female miner explained, when asked if mining still continued: “Of course, it is the activity going on in this area. You cannot move [away from mining] because you have children who are going to need to eat… It is just a problem of money”.
- Local gold prices remain low:
- Gold prices in Migori town remain at around Ksh3,500 (33USD) per gram (of around 84% pure gold), in comparison to around Ksh4,300 (40USD) before COVID-19.
- This reflects a 17.5% drop, similar to what was reported here on 30 March.
- Gold buyers stack the acquired gold at home, waiting for local prices to increase before selling. ASGM miners lack the capital required to stack and have no choice but to sell at these low prices, despite the high international gold price.
- Women are disproportionately affected:
- Given women’s responsibilities in the household, including the responsibility to care for their children, they are disproportionately affected by the hardship caused under COVID-19.
- As a female miner explained: “The husband can decide to leave home for the entire day, leaving the woman with kids to take care of everything… The children, you need to educate them, feed them, [and for this] you just depend on gold. When it [the gold] is not there, you have to suffer”.
- This applies particularly to widows, who are the sole breadwinners in the household.
- In Mikei, female miners are further disadvantaged as their role is to crush ore, for which they depend – as per local gender norms – on men to dig ore in the shafts (now mostly at night). When men do not go into these shafts, there is nothing for these women to crush and no gold to recover.
Lolgorian community, Narok county9
- In late March, virtually all gold mines had shut down in Lolgorian, depriving around 3,000 people of their direct livelihood.
- Some miners have defied the mine closure order, because according to them, “if I don’t mine, I don’t eat”; “you are sending us home to die”; and “everyone [here] depends on mining”.
- The community-led and foreign-supported non-for profit Lolgorian Farmers of Gold wrote a letter to the government to plea for being be allowed to continue mining operations while implementing the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus.
- Following this plea, the governor of Narok county made a visit to the mines sites to assess the status of precautionary measures taken. After confirming adherence to requisite measures and proactive engagements to prevent the spread COVID-19, the community was granted permission to proceed with ASGM operations.
- As of 16 April, local miners have returned to the mines wearing protective masks, making regular use of hand gels, and keeping appropriate distance between each other. Lolgorian Farmers of Gold is allowing no more than 10 miners per site
- Mining and Environment authorities have equally scheduled an inspection visit to determine whether this can be allowed to continue.
Miners’ needs (both coral and gold miners)
- Engaging in dialogue with authorities (specifically the State Department of Mining) to discuss exemption from forced closure of all activities and explore workable solutions, as ASM is in fact an essential business for their communities’ livelihoods and the local economy
- Supporting measures such as protective equipment (e.g. masks, goggles, hand sanitation gel) and support in formalization, so as to enable ASM activity to continue in a responsible manner (e.g. under the supervision of miners’ organizations maintaining social distancing and other policies)
- Emergency relief in terms of food, cash and clean drinking water
- Awareness raising and education about COVID-19 in ASM communities
- Increased health care services in rural areas, including for non-COVID-related health issues
- Stable buyers offering fairer prices
2 John Hopkins Corona Virus Resource Center. Accessed April 20, 2020
3 https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/kenya-police-kill-more-during-curfew-than-covid-19/1807930. Accessed April 17, 2020
4 https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/police-line-defence-covid-19-200410135620723.html. Accessed April 17, 2020
5 Information obtained from Ibrahim Ndungu, Treasurer with Manda Moweni Mining and Quarrying Cooperative in Maweni village, Manda island, on April 17, 2020
6 For more on LAPSSET, see: http://www.lapsset.go.ke/
7 For more information of the possible negative repercussions of LAPSSET on local communities, see: Chome, N. (2020). Land, livelihoods and belonging: negotiating change and anticipating LAPSSET in Kenya’s Lamu county. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 1-22.
8 Information, including quotes, obtained from Monica Aoko Opiyo, Vice Secretary with MOKA (a women’s self-help group from Mikei, Osiri and Kabobo) in Mikei,Migori; and from Julius Opiyo, Manager of MICA (Migori County Artisanal Miners Cooperative Society Ltd.) in Mikei, Migori, both on April 17, 2020
9 Information obtained from Matt Hales, Co-founder of FARMERS OF GOLD – LOLGORIAN, Kenya, & USA in Lolgorian, Narok, on April 17, 2020. Quotes provided by Matt Hales, citing the words of local gold miners in his community in March 2020
Update 10: 20th April 2020
Niger: Impact of COVID-19 on gold mining sites
Contribution written by Dr. Abdoulkader Afane (Niamey, Niger)
Original text provided in French (below), English translation by Delve
The COVID-19 health crisis is causing an increase in the vulnerability of gold miners in Niger, who already suffer from poverty-related shortages in income and basic social services. The price of food commodities in all gold mining regions is increasing following government measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The rise appears to be caused by the government’s decision to close the international borders and isolate the city of Niamey from other regions through the suspension of transportation to other cities and ban on leaving the city. In addition to food, the COVID-19 pandemic is also responsible for a shortage (and rise in prices) of products needed for gold mining activities. The product shortages include processing chemicals (cyanide, mercury), dynamite, solar panels, and gasoline. Generators have become scarce and expensive, making it difficult for gold mining operations. In addition, air routes and travel is suspended, preventing the export of gold to international markets. This closure has repercussions on the price of gold at all gold panning sites.
Impact on Gold Sites
On the gold panning site of Tchibarakaten (Agadez region), in addition to the closure of the border with Algeria, the military convoy accompanying passenger vehicles connecting Arlit to the site has been suspended. This measure is part of the government restrictions limiting of movement of people to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Authorization to access the [Tchibarakaten] site is only granted to supply trucks providing food and equipment as well as water tanks 1. Despite the isolation measures, the transport of gold washers to the site continues clandestinely to avoid militarized zones/surveillance.
At the Komabangou mining site in the region of Tillabery, the price of gold sells for between 17,000 to 22,000 CFA francs per gram (~$USD28.18 - $USD36.47). Mine site bosses offer the ceiling price of 22,000 CFA francs per gram in order to retain workers operating in their pit. Gold traders on the site are buying at lower prices due to poor sales. Before the [COVID-19] health crisis, the gold price has been between 22,000 and 25,000 CFA francs/g . According to Allassane, an agent in charge of crushers on the PRACC site2, even the approved traders in Niamey are no longer able to buy gold at a reasonable price. They claim to have difficulty exporting gold since the airports are closed. Recently gold miners from the Komabangou site have returned to Niamey with as much as two kilograms of gold as they preferred to return with the gold rather than sell it at the current prices offered by authorized traders.
At the Tabelot mine site in the Agadez region, the price of gold has also declined due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Depending on the purity (carat) of gold, prices have fallen:
Gold Purity (carat)
Pre-COVID-19 Price [CFA Francs per gram($USD)]
Current Price [CFA Francs per gram($USD)]
Price Reduction (%)
12,500 - 13,000 ($20.70-$21.52)
7,000 - 8,000 ($11.59-$13.25)
The poor sales of gold have also led to the end of the sale of residual tailings to the cyanidation site of Agadez. It is a huge loss in the annual budget of the town of Tabelot. As an illustration, in November 2019, a single campaign selling residual tailings stored on the gold processing site of Tabelot reported generating 200 million CFA francs worth of gold (~$USD331,576). One-third of the funds generated went back to the community and was used to develop the pathways connecting gold washing sites in the village of Tabelot and to supply the municipality’s health centers with medical products.
COVID-19 Prevalence & Prevention
There are still no reported cases of COVID-19 among the ASM community in the Agadez region, but these gold panning sites are already impacted by the indirect effects of the pandemics through the disruption of the supply chain COVID-19 has caused. The Tillabéry region has been recording cases of COVID-19 since March. One person Téra, where Komabangou site is located, was diagnosed positive in Niamey. Despite the Agadez region being without a case of COVID-19, the authorities have started campaigns to raise awareness. In Tabelot, a combined delegation from the Secretary General of the Town Hall, the Police Commissioner and the Chairman of the site management committee carried out a COVID-19 awareness-raising workshop at the formal treatment site located approximately two kilometers from the village. Miners were instructed on preventative practice that can be taken before entering mine sites. The members of the delegation advised that processing companies install hand washing stations at the entrance of their installations. For the moment, all modern processing facilities have implemented these handwashing stations. On the other hand, no awareness raising has been carried out at the large artisanal treatment site which could comprise the market, the workers' camps, and the owners of the crushing mills, sluice booms and modern crushing machines.
Despite the existence of the epidemic in the country , extraction activities are being carried out as normal on the mining sites of Komabangou, Tabelot and Tchibarakaten. For the moment, the preventative measures against the COVID-19 have not yet been put into place at the various gold panning sites.
Role of Migrant Population
In Agadez, the situation may be disrupted by the sub-Saharan migrants repressed from Libya and Algeria . On March 19, there were 667 migrants turned back by Algeria, who were confined to Assamaka on the Nigerian-Algerian border. After their quarantine, these migrants were transported to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) transit camps in Arlit and Agadez . In addition, 250 other migrants were turned back from the border of Libya and taken by IOM to Agadez and are currently confined to the regional stadium for their medical and logistical follow-up. On April 10, 40 migrants fled the regional stadium site without anyone knowing their current situation. If arrangements are not made (transport to their countries of origin), migrants risk ending up on the gold panning sites in order to find work while waiting for the opening of the borders. Similar issues have occurred in the past (before the law criminalizing the transport of migrants to Niger was passed), where migrants without other economic options went to work in the salt mines of Bilma. These migrants could also spread COVID-19 as many of them who fled the stadium where they were being held by IOM for repatriation may find their way to ASM sites.
1 Due to the absence of the resource, all the water supply comes from Arlit, a Nigerien town located about 650 km from the site of Tchibarakaten
2 Support Project Competitiveness and Growth
Niger: Impact du Covid-19 sur les sites d’orpaillage
Écrit par Dr. Abdoulkader Afane (Niamey, Niger)
Dans tous les sites d’orpaillage, les produits alimentaires connaissent une hausse suite aux mesures gouvernementales de lutte contre la propagation de la pandémie du Covid-19. La décision de fermer les frontières internationales et d’isoler la ville de Niamey des autres régions (suspension des transports vers les autres villes, interdiction de sortie de la ville) semble être la principale cause de cette augmentation des prix des denrées alimentaires. Sur le site d’orpaillage de Tchibarakaten (région d’Agadez), en plus de la fermeture de la frontière avec l’Algérie, le convoi militaire accompagnant les véhicules de transport des passagers reliant Arlit au site a été suspendu en raison de la pandémie du Covid-19. Cette mesure rentre dans le cadre de la limitation de déplacement des personnes afin de réduire la propagation du Covide-19. L’autorisation d’accès au site est seulement accordée aux camions des marchandises d’approvisionnements (Nourriture, matériels) et les citernes d’eau 1. Malgré les mesures d’isolement, le transport des orpailleurs vers le site se réalise actuellement par fraude pour éviter les zones militarisées.
En plus de l’alimentation, la pandémie du Covid-19 est également responsable de la pénurie et de la hausse des prix des produits nécessaires aux activités d’extraction dans tous les sites d’orpaillage. Les produits chimiques (cyanure, mercure), les dynamites, les fils électriques, l’essence et les groupes électrogènes sont devenus rares et coûteux, rendant encore plus difficile l’activité d’orpaillage. A cela vient s’ajouter la fermeture des frontières aériennes avec comme principal impact l’arrêt de l’exportation de l’or sur le marché international. Cela se répercute sur le prix de l’or au niveau de tous les sites d’orpaillage.
A Komabangou dans la région de Tillabéry, le prix du gramme d’or se vend entre 17.000 à 22.000 Fcfa. Seuls les patrons offrent d’ailleurs ce prix de 22.000/g à leurs ouvriers pour pouvoir les maintenir au niveau de leur puits d’extraction. Les commerçants d’or sur le site achètent à un prix encore plus bas en raison de la mévente. Avant la crise sanitaire, le prix variait entre 22.000 et 25.000 Fcfa/g. D’après Allassane, agent en charge des broyeurs du site de PRACC2, même les commerçants agrées de Niamey n’arrivent plus à acheter l’or à un prix raisonnable. Ils prétendent avoir des difficultés d’exportation de l’or depuis la fermeture des aéroports. Tout récemment, des orpailleurs du site de Komabangou sont revenus de Niamey avec leur 2 kg de l’or sans pouvoir les revendre. Ils ont préféré retourner avec leurs marchandises plutôt que le céder aux prix proposés par les commerçants agréés.
A Tabelot dans la région d’Agadez, les prix d’or ont aussi connu une baisse du fait de l’épidémie du Covid-19. En fonction de la pureté (carat) d’or, les prix ont baissé de 27.000 à 18.000 Fcfa/g pour la qualité supérieure, et de 20.000 à 13.000 Fcfa/g pour la qualité moyenne. Pour la dernière qualité (or très impur), le gramme qui se vende entre 13.000 et 12.500 Fcfa/g avant la crise, s’achète actuellement au prix de 8.000 et 7000Fcfa/g. La mévente de l’or a également entrainé l’arrêt de la vente de résidus (haldes) de traitement destinés au site de cyanuration d’Agadez. C’est une perte énorme dans le budget annuel de la commune de Tabelot. A titre illustratif, en novembre 2019, une seule campagne de revente des résidus (haldes) stockés sur le site de traitement d’or de Tabelot a rapporté 200 millions de Fcfa. Le 1/3 de cette somme revenant à la collectivité a été utilisée pour aménager les pistes reliant les sites d’orpaillage au village de Tabelot et approvisionner les centres de santé de la commune en produits médicaux.
Les conséquences actuelles de la crise sanitaire du Covid-19 au niveau des sites d’orpaillage risquent d’accroitre encore plus la vulnérabilité des orpailleurs, qui souffrent déjà de la pauvreté liée aux manques des revenus et des services sociaux de base.
Même si les sites d’orpaillage sont impactés par les effets indirects de l’épidémie par la perturbation de la chaîne de valeur, il n’existe pas encore de cas de contamination au Covid-19 au niveau des ASM.
Par contre la région de Tillabéry a enregistré ses premiers cas du Covid-19 depuis le mois de mars. Une personne originaire de Téra, département d’attache du site de Komabangou, a été diagnostiquée positive à Niamey. Pour le moment, la région d’Agadez n’a pas eu son premier cas du Covid-19. Malgré cela, les autorités ont entamé de campagnes pour sensibiliser la population. A Tabelot, une délégation composée du SG de la Mairie, du Commissaire de police et du Président du comité de gestion du site a effectué une mission de sensibilisation sur le site de traitement situé à environ 2km du village. Les mesures barrières ont été expliquées aux orpailleurs présents sur le site. Les membres de la délégation ont instruits aux sociétés de traitement d’installer des dispositifs de lavage de mains à la porte l’entrée de leur installation. Pour le moment, toutes les sociétés modernes de traitement ont mis en place le dispositif. Par contre, aucune mesure n’est prise sur le grand site artisanal de traitement comportant le marché, les camps des ouvriers, et les propriétaires des moulins de concassage, des rampes sluices et des machines modernes de broyage.
En dépit de l’existence l’épidémie dans le pays, les activités d’extraction se pratiquent normalement sur les sites d’exploitation de komabangou, Tabelot et Tchibarakaten. Pour le moment, les mesures barrières contre le Covid-19 ne sont pas encore prises sur les différents sites d’orpaillage.
A Agadez, la situation peut être perturbée par les migrants subsahariens refoulés de la Libye et d’Algérie. Le 19 mars dernier, ces sont 667 migrants refoulés par l’Algérie, qui ont été confiné à Assamaka à la frontière Nigéro-algérienne. Après leur quarantaine, ses migrants ont été acheminés dans les camps de transit de l’OIM à Arlit et à Agadez. Aussi, 250 autres migrants refoulés de la frontière de la Libye et emmenés par l’OIM à Agadez sont actuellement confinés au stade régional pour leur suivi médical et logistique. Le 10 avril dernier, une 40 parmi eux ont fuit le site sans que personne ne sache leur situation actuelle. Si des dispositions ne sont pas prises (acheminement dans leurs pays d’origine), ses migrants risquent de se retrouver sur les sites d’orpaillage afin de chercher de quoi poursuivre leur aventure après l’ouverture des frontières. Cette pratique se faisait déjà dans les salines de Bilma, par les migrants qui ont tout perdu, avant la loi criminalisant le transport des migrants au Niger. Ils peuvent ainsi être responsables de la propagation du Covid-19 sur les sites. Les fuyards du stade et des camps de transit de l’OIM vont certainement se retrouver sur les sites des ASM.
1 En raison de l’absence de la ressource, toute l’alimentation en eau provient d’Arlit, ville nigérienne située à environ 650 km du site de Tchibarakaten
2 Projet d’Appui à la Compétitivité et à la Croissance
Update 9: 15th April 2020
Sudan: Essential business continues as normal with open markets trading at international spot prices
- Public bus travel and all public gatherings banned. All schools closed.
- Indefinite curfew between 8pm – 6am (imposed since 24 March).
- A full lockdown for 3 weeks will begin 18 April for the state of Khartoum. Grocery stores and pharmacies exempted for limited hours.
- “Sudan is in perhaps one of the worst situations anywhere in the world to mobilize an effective national response…[because of]…grinding poverty, lack of household savings to offset lost income, lack of access to clean water, proper sanitation,…a collapsed health care system…millions living in displaced persons camps across Darfur.” Cameron Hudson, Atlantic Council Africa Centre (previously US special envoy to Sudan)
- Misinformation and denial has delayed an effective response, and is causing political and social tension. 3
- WhatsApp rumours spreading include that the virus is: (1) a European disease designed to poison Africans; (2) Sudan is impervious to the virus because of the country’s young population, hot weather, and Sudanese receiving chloroquine; and (3) that Chinese face masks are being sent pre-infected. 4
- Supporters of the previous Bashir administration are protesting and breaking curfew; a powerful imam alleging that COVID-19 was a hoax by the government to stop gatherings, and that social distancing is against Islam.
- Health infrastructure is derisory: the country has a population of 42 million but only 200 ICU beds and less than 80 ventilators.
- Inflation is 70% with bread, fuel, power and water shortages. 60% of the population work in the informal economy.
Gold Mining Sector
- Between 300,00 – 900,000 (up to 2 million) are employed in Sudan’s artisanal and small-scale mining sector.
- 85 – 90% gold production is informal ASM, and is Sudan’s most important economic sector, worth more than $3 Billion, accounting for > 60% exports. 5
- Gold miners continue business as usual, as all but one COVID-19 case has been confined to Khartoum, despite borders and travel closing.
- Rumors the government would cease mining circulated in March, but no closures have taken place, except with limited effect at large-scale mines.
- Gold prices continue to track international trends – there have been no price decreases as observed elsewhere. Gold trade continues as normal.
- Gold mining is expected to be declared “essential activity” by the government and is expected to continue despite the 18 April 3-week Lockdown measures.
New Updates and Analysis available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- Reuters: Congo governor condemns rising insecurity at mines in gold province
- Artisanal Gold Council: Philippines: the Artisanal Mining Sector During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mongolia: Impacts of COVID-19 are currently low, but uncertainty in Artisanal Gold Mining Communities remains high
- planetGOLD: Statement on COVID-19
- Devonshire Initiative: COVID-19 Response Discussion Paper , Actions taken by companies and NGOs in response to COVID-19
- Kinross has donated approximately $1 million across all sites to facilitate improved testing, provide medical supplies, improve health infrastructure, support local businesses and help vulnerable groups. Kinross has partnered directly with government health authorities, with mining industry associations, community partners, local businesses, schools and individuals. The company is actively working on a longer-term strategy looking at continued response plus eventual recovery, with lines of action likely to focus on health and local economic reactivation.
- Newmont Ghana has announced a US$100,000 support package for Ghana’s public health efforts to minimize the transmission of the Coronavirus disease in the country. This will include support for two testing centers in Accra and Kumasi, as well as preventive measures in and around its Ahafo and Akyem mines and the Ahafo North Project area.
- Responsible Steel hosted a multi-stakeholder panel on COVID-19 impacts. (Responsible Steel, 2020)
- Rio Tinto has pledged $25 million to support global grassroots, community COVID-19 preparedness and recovery. Rio Tinto Iron Ore Company has worked with Hope Haven in Labrador to provide a furnished housing unit for the community of Labrador City and Wabush.
- In Chile, BHP and the Medical Faculty of Universidad Católica, have combined efforts to raise the testing capacity and strengthen the Familiar Health Centers of the South East Area of the Metropolitan Region, as well as Antofagasta and Tarapacá. BHP has contributed $8Million USD to the effort. (BHP, 2020)
- Vale has procured 5 million rapid-COVID-19 tests for Brazil that started to be delivered in March. Many survey respondents noted that testing should be a priority. Vale has launched a “COVID-19 Challenge” offering $1 Million in cash prizes for companies in Canada and Brazil to bring innovative COVID-19 solutions to the marketplace with a focus on risk monitoring and prevention and patient monitoring
- Suncor has donated 40,000 N95 masks to the Canadian Federal Government, which directed them to communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
Update 8: 13th April 2020
New Updates and Statements available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- IMPACT: COVID-19 & ASM: Illicit Traders Cashing In on Vulnerable Miners in Conflict-Prone Areas
- PlanetGold (Peru): ASGM in the time of COVID-19
- Southern Africa Solidaridad Network (Zimbabwe): Artisanal Miners exposed to COVID-19
- Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association: COVID-19 Mining Sector Communities Situational Report (March 31 – April 8)
- Nobuhle Mabhikwa (Zimbabwe): It never rains but it pours and yet all hope is not lost – Keeping up with the Mthandazo Women Miners Association of Gwanda, Zimbabwe
- Africa Mining Hub (Kenya): Impacts of Covid-19 on Artisanal and Small Scale Mining: Case study Kilifi County Kenya
- Washington Post (Niger): West Africa trafficking brings human suffering removing it can set off instability
- Artisanal Gold Council: Burkina Faso - Quarantines and Gold Prices Down 20% , Swiss Refineries and Dubai Lockdown- One Step Forward, One Step Back
- PLEXII (Uganda): Shrunk markets, low prices push artisanal miners to seek alternative livelihoods
Update 7: 9th April 2020
Zimbabwe: COVID-19 situational updates in Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) sites in Kwekwe, Shurugwi and Gwanda
Situational update provide by Pact Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’ s Ministry of Health and Child Care's recent update on COVID-19 pandemic as of 08 April 2020 is summarized below1
- COVID-19 tests conducted: 411
- COVID-19 positive: 11 including 3 deaths
- COVID-19 negative: 400
Zimbabwe is now on day 10 of the COVID-19 21 days lockdown which began in earnest at midnight on Monday 30 March 2020. It’s quite clear that Harare is at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. As such the busy streets of our cities and towns have been turned into ghost towns overnight affecting the livelihoods of millions of citizens dependent on daily incomes in a country with over 90% unemployment and a largely informal economy. For many of Zimbabwe's 16 million people, the lockdown means serious hardship as already the economy is in deep recession. However, the mining industry has been spared after the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) identified it as a key economic pillar that needs to continuously operate. However, some key players, not excluding corporates such as Mimosa and Unki Platinum Mines, have opted to play it safe hence remaining with skeletal staff on site. This means the mines can opt to either be under care and maintenance or to reduce production by working with skeleton staff to observe social distancing and limit workplace congestion. Therefore, GoZ through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development have indicated that mining companies including artisanal and small-scale mines (ASM) should have clear guidelines on how they will continue to operate and safeguard their employees from contracting COVID-19 during the 21-day lockdown. Fidelity Printers & Refiners (FPR), the sole of buyer of gold in Zimbabwe and subsidiary company of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), have also scaled down their operations and now have only two offices open from 09:00 to 15:00 in Harare and Bulawayo. However, their agents remain operational buying gold from miners against the prevailing relatively stable FPR gold prices.
With these new arrangements the following questions emerge:
- How long will mercury still be available on the market considering the borders have closed?
- Will the mercury price fluctuate or remain stable?
- Do artisanal miners have the capacity to observe WHO guidelines to prevent COVID-19 transmission?
- How will the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development monitor their operations to ensure compliance?
Pact Zimbabwe has tried to share on the ground information through continuous interaction with key stakeholders including miner beneficiaries in the three mining districts of Kwekwe, Shurugwi & Gwanda where the Zimbabwe Accountability and Artisanal Mining Program (ZAAMP) is being implemented.
No positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date. Miners report that the testing centers are still to be decentralized and all they know is the existence of screening sites such as at Shurugwi Hospital. One mining association, whose membership largely comprises beneficiaries of ZAAMP’s capacity building initiatives met with local leadership on Day 2 to deliberate on the way forward regarding their operations and settled to apply for an exemption which has since been granted temporarily pending final review and approval by the Ministry of Mines. Illegal miners have continued with their business, some taking advantage of poor enforcement of the lockdown regulations while others remain unaware. This indicates a need for greater awareness raising about COVID-19 in mining communities. Some prominent small scale miners were operating, taking advantage of the greater availability of electricity, which had until last week been a key setback to operations. Some have put in place and further enforced existing precautionary measures. One cooperative mine site in Shurugwi has downsized its labor force. They now have fewer workers at any given shift who work through the entire process until they get their processed gold for the day. Pre-existing measures such as safety talks have been reinforced. Mercury being sold at more or less the same price of US$5 per teaspoon or US$95/kg is now hard to access in places. Gold prices on the parallel market dipped by an estimated 30% possibly because of the closed borders to neighboring countries.
No positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date despite the previous scares. The few miners surveyed seemed to have all made their way to their mine sites despite the lockdown call on the very first day. Artisanal miners who survive from hand to mouth continue with operations albeit centralizing more on surface operations following calls by patrolling police to desist all other operations that involve many people working at once. Some have totally forgone underground operations and now focus on rubble mining and ore processing. In other jurisdictions miners were totally disallowed to operate. Miners who were previously not affiliated to ZMF failed to raise the money required to apply for an exemption whilst others had not heard about the opportunity to apply for exemption before the Friday 3 April 2020 deadline.
No positive cases of COVID-19 have been reported to date, however, a group of 15 Ethiopian migrants en-route to South Africa was found housed at a rural homestead in Gwanda after a tip-off. One of the migrants was in a poor state of health and had to be rushed to Gwanda Hospital for treatment . Initial reports indicate that the immigrants were being housed at a homestead in Mawane One Village in Swisha area after they failed to cross the border. Some milling centers in Shurugwi and Gwanda, including those run by women, are not operational as workers observe the lockdown call. Some miners who were skeptical to go to their mines on the first day where able to maneuver police roadblocks since Day 2 in order to supply personnel at the mine sites with food and water. Since the beginning of this week, the police at roadblocks are asking miners, in addition to other travel documents, for copies of exemption letters which were granted by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development last week. Sadly, the police wear no gloves, protective masks nor possess any hand sanitizers. Most miners have processed applications to seek exemptions to avoid losing claims, property and ore to thieves. However, some applied in order to continue production and key maintenance operations critical for a mine to continue to operate long after the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 232 ASMs were granted exemption letters as at 3 April 2020. Soldiers were deployed to enforce lockdown on Sunday 5 April 2020. Police are reported to be beating up residents in the suburbs after 1pm and chasing away people found on some mine sites that have no proof of applying for the exemption. Last week, police reportedly asked personnel on mine sites if they had applied for exemption and advising all those who applied to have a copy of the response letter on site. Access roads to commonly known parallel market sites are under intense army surveillance in a bid to curb informal gold trade. Safety measures put in place include sanitizers and masks for those who could afford and were proactive enough to buy them while still accessible. Some chemical and explosive supply companies have been exempted in order to support the mining sector and fortunately stock up on sanitation and hygiene kits such as masks and sanitizers. Mercury is still available at a price of ZAR75 per teaspoon (equivalent 4.20 USD/tsp). With social distancing being encouraged, operations have scaled down and some living conditions of mine workers have had to be revised to reduce overcrowding.
1Ministry of Health and Child Care, Situational Report April 8
Update 6: 8th April 2020
New Updates and Statements available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- Responsible Mica Initiative,Responsible Mica Initiative participate in emergency response to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on mica-dependent communities.
- After India imposed national lockdown measures, the Responsible Mica Initiative has reallocated funds initially dedicated to community empowerment programs for mica dependent communities to providing emergency support. In coordination with the local governments the program has setup four community kitchens, supplying food to artisanal miners and their families in mica dependent communities who are unable to work due to the national lockdown. As of April 7, the program has distributed over 5,000 meals.
- Alliance for Responsible Mining: Impacto del COVID-19 en la minería artesanal y de pequeña escala (español), Impact of COVID-19 on artisanal and small-scale mining (English) Analysis prepared with Solidaridad on impact of COVID-19 on gold mining sector in Colombia.
- Artisanal Gold Council, Artisanal Gold Mining Communities on the Verge of Crisis, the view from Choco, Colombia , Impacts of COVID-10 on ASGM Communities (Updated) , A Call to Action: Mitigating Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal Gold Mining Communities (Updated)
- Solidaridad: Preventing COVID-19 in Mining Communities
- IMPACT: Statement on ‘Upholding our Mission in a Time of Uncertainty
- Global Affairs Canada: Canada’s support for international efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Guidance on eligibility of COVID-19 potential costs for International Development Assistance Program
- USAID: COVID-19 Guidance for Implementing Partners , COVID-19 Implementing Partner Guidance Frequently Asked Questions (updated), Humanitarian Response Activities for COVID-19
Update 5: 3rd April 2020
New Resources Available on COVID-19's impact on the Artisanal Mining Sector:
- PlanetGold, Monitoring the Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining
- Levin Sources, ASM, Responsible Sourcing and COVID-19- An Initial Analysis
- Artisanal Gold Council, Impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM communities (Updated April 2)
- Reuters, Subsistence Miners lose out as coronavirus crushes local gold prices
- Mining Review, Renewed focus on formalization of artisanal mining sector
- Minerals, Materials and Society Webinar, Securing Supply Chains in Times of Crisis
- Special three-hour training webinar on lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Webinar will be led by Professor Saleem H. Ali. Discounted rate! Proceeds will support scholarships for students in need.
Friday, May 1, 9 a.m. - noon (U.S. Eastern Daylight Time)
- To register for the webinar, please contact Patricia Syvrud, MMS Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Special three-hour training webinar on lessons from the COVID-19 crisis. Webinar will be led by Professor Saleem H. Ali. Discounted rate! Proceeds will support scholarships for students in need.
Update 4: 1st April 2020
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Interview with the President of an Artisanal Mining Cooperative in Kolwezi
What local impacts are you seeing the COVID-19 pandemic having on your life and community?
The prices of staple foods have increased dramatically in Kolwezi, DRC, with a sack of maize flour now selling for over US$50, double the price it was the previous week. Also, in Kolwezi, the people couldn’t circulate in the city for two days [during lockdown], but now that restriction has been lifted. However, the increasing cost of goods, food and other needs makes it very difficult for the ASMs to survive.
What affect is the COVID-19 is having on the artisanal and small-scale mining sector in DRC?
Social considerations – Artisanal miners are young people who earn a living day to day. With the decision to protect their health by staying at home for two weeks, our families will live how? We live day by day; this will be complicated for us. We thank god that no cases have been registered here. We demand measures to let us restart our work activities, but without forgetting to respect health standards such as washing hands, keeping a safe distance and not coughing.
Alternative sources of revenue – For the artisanal miners, [their] principle activity is what we are doing (i.e. mining). There are also secondary activities, like agriculture. Right now we are in the rainy season, so we have to wait two or three months to harvest what we planted. Again, we weren’t ready for this stoppage. Other secondary activities are small scale buying/selling that some of the wives do at home, but that’s not enough to finance all our [family] needs, such as paying school fees or going to the hospital for treatment during this epidemic.
What steps have you and your cooperative taken to address the COVID-19 outbreak?
Artisanal miners also need [their] health, [and] they also should respect health standards. [Our cooperative has] started with sensitization for artisanal miners accompanied by [our] large-scale mining partner’s doctor, who gave guidance on how to protect ourselves from this epidemic. We also purchased a non-contact thermometer to check miners entering the site to help them know their own health status.
What is the current situation for your cooperative and what do you want to happen in the future?
Our operation is shut down and we don’t know what will happen. The way that [the Cooperative] has trained our members and the way that they work in the cooperative, [our members] could decide to go work on privately owned concession [informal ASM site without authorization of the concession holders]. Some artisanal miners [have come to me] and said that they are no longer used to working in those conditions in deep pits. Someone who worked before in deep pits before saw fatal accidents. He was lucky to join [the cooperative], where we work in an open pit and he knows the advantage of working in an open pit and working in a cooperative where he is respected. He cannot have the idea or the hope to work in a clandestine manner. The artisanal miners are simply requesting that they can go back to work in good conditions [at the formal mine site]. We want to resume our activities so we can earn a living for our families.
Zimbabwe: Disruption to ASM gold producers affecting national economy
ASM Workforce: 500,000 miners
COVID-19 Country Status: 8 COVID-19 Cases (as of 1/4/2020)1
- Zimbabwe now on a 21 day national lockdown effective March 30 (announcement was made on March 27)
- Essential services have been exempted from the lockdown including health clinics, food industry, hospitals & pharmacies, and service delivery. A full list is available in the newly established Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order2
- Minister of Mines has announced guidelines on essential services required to preserve the operating capacity in the mining industry during the lockdown in consultation with Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (COMZ) and Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF).
- For continued operation, ASMs are advised to apply through ZMF stating the nature of operation during the lockdown and measures that will be taken safe guard employees.
- Once an application has been lodged, company/syndicate/miner can continue to operate pending a response from government
Impact on Miners
- Majority of miners and community members are staying indoors most likely due to fear of law enforcement agents enforcing lockdown, rather than for personal health protection. With COVID-19 cases currently at low levels, miners perceive the risk for the country to be low.
- In Shurugwi, a mining center in Midlands Province, mine management committees have been setup to deliberate on the COVID-19 risks in the district and strategize on the possible way forward. Members are hopeful they will be able to apply for exemption for mining but in the meantime are abiding by the call to stay at home. Currently only COVID-19 screening facilities exist in Shurugwi. The government has however pledged to decentralize testing centers to support local health providers.
- Miners are concerned that they will suffer significant financial losses as they are not able to be producing. They suggest that the lockdown be carried out in certain places whilst others are put under heavy monitoring. However, there are doubts in the government’s capacity to monitor the situation effectively due to resources constraints. Miners highlighted that within their communities there is likely to be a hunger crisis as prior to the lockdown announcement there had been a food crisis associated with mealie meal (a staple food in Zimbabwe).
- Most mine owners in Gwanda have resorted to staying home while they monitor the presence of security forces. However, they indicate that at their mines they do have personnel on site, so they are not on total shutdown but rather scaled down operations. With movement restricted, some owners are providing care and maintenance to supply essentials such as water and food.
- Reuters, Subsistence miners lose out as coronavirus crushes local gold prices. March 31, 2020
- All Africa, Zimbabwe: COVID-19 Could Trigger Violence and Crime in Mining Communities - Zela. March 31, 2020
- Mining Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Shutdown, implications on Mining. March 30, 2020
- Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, COVID-19: Mining Sector and Communities Situational Report. March 21-28, 2020
Update 3: 31st March 2020
Sierra Leone: with first reported COVID-19 case, most artisanal miners continue their operations but suffer economically from crashing local mineral prices
ASM Workforce: 300,000 miners, including appr. 80,000 ASGM miners
COVID-19 Country Status: first case announced 31/03/2020 1
- The Freetown International Airport has been closed and all international passenger flights have been suspended
- A 12-month state of Public Health emergency has been announced
- The borders with Guinea and Liberia have been closed (as of 30 March 2020) and military has been deployed at land crossing points to ensure security and compliance
- All learning institutions, entertainment centers, churches and mosques have been closed down
- No social gatherings with >100 people are allowed, and cultural events have been prohibited
Impact on Miners 2,3
- ASM and other rural business activities still continue, but at a smaller scale:
- Following pre-emptive sensitization from health authorities and close monitoring by police officers in Dalakuru community, Koinadugu district, ASM mines have scaled down their workforce to a maximum of five people.
- In Banakoro mine site, Kono district – which has not yet been targeted by the authorities – many people have left the mines following crashing mineral prices while others continue their activities in groups of five to 15 people.
- Mineral trade still continues, but with the closing of borders with Guinea and Liberia – where the majority of gold and diamonds are smuggled to – local mineral prices have dropped significantly:
- In Dalakuru, 1 gram of roughly 22 karat (around 91.6% pure) gold was typically sold for Le455,000 (46.80USD), and is now sold for Le375,000 (38.60USD)4; reflecting a sharp drop of 17.5%
- In Banakoro, gold prices have dropped from about Le85,000 (43.70USD) to Le40,000 (20.60USD) per gram of 20 karat (around 85% pure) gold; practically halving miners’ incomes. Local diamond prices have made similar drops.
- With fewer traders buying minerals, miners have no choice but to accept such prices from traders who currently store their acquired minerals at home or to follow suit and equally store their mineral wealth until the situation changes
- Around Banakoro and Komaru, decreased mining revenues and increased youth unemployment are already increasing burglaries and other types of crime on a daily basis.
- Some consulted miners need more buyers and investors so that they can continue their operations (for now) and receive fairer prices.
- Miners who do not expect to be allowed to proceed with their operations once COVID-19 strikes Sierra Leone, expect to need emergency relief, and more generally, support in professionalizing their livelihoods
1Reuters, National Post Article citing President Julius Maada Bio speech March 31, 2020.
2 The listed observations from Dalakuru were obtained from Mohammed F Conteh, artisanal gold miner and trader in Dalakuru, Koinadugu district, Sierra Leone (pictured below on right).
3 The listed observations from Banakoro were obtained from Emmanuel Kpaka, Casablanca site group supervisor, Komaru, Kono district, Sierra Leone.
4 Using a conversation rate of 1 Leones = 0.00010 USD as of 30 March 2020
Kenya: ASM-dependent communities hard hit by mine closures and decreased local gold prices
ASM Workforce: 140,000 miners, including appr. 40,000 ASGM miners
COVID-19 Country Status: 42 Covid-19 cases total (as of 29/03/2020)1
- Suspension of all international passenger flights to Kenya (into effect as of 25 March)
- National Curfew Order prohibiting non-essential movements between 7pm and 5am (as of 27 March)
- Schools and universities are closed down
- Economic measures: various forms of tax relief (including income tax, corporate tax, turnover tax and VAT) and pay cuts for the President and other members of the executive
- People are encouraged to work from home
- No social gatherings with >15 people are allowed and social distancing is mandatory
- National Government has extended to the County Governments a direct order to shut down all ‘non-essential businesses’, including mining operations
Impact on Miners and their communities
Impacts vary between communities and counties, but overall, they are dramatic
Mikei community, Migori county 2
- All gold mines have shut down.
- The economic activities fueled by gold mining – such as food sales, small shops and restaurants – have largely halted, as people no longer have cash to pay for food, products and services. Some people have started farming, but not many.
- As a result of the travel ban, gold trade has decreased and the local price received for one gram of gold has decreased from Ksh 4,200 (around 42 USD) to Ksh 3,500 (around 33 USD). Moreover, mercury supply has decreased and its price has increased.
Lolgorian community, Narok county 3
- Virtually all gold mines have shut down, depriving around 3,000 people of their direct livelihood.
- Some miners are defying the mine closure order, because according to them, “if I don’t mine, I don’t eat”; “you are sending us home to die”; and “everyone [here] depends on mining”.
- The community-led and foreign-supported non-for profit Lolgorian Farmers of Gold has written a letter to the government to plea for being be allowed to continue mining operations while implementing the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Kakamega county 4
- While major mines have shut down, smaller mines (<15 people) are still operating.
- Due to the curfew, miners can no longer work 24 hours per day and production has dropped significantly, causing economic hardship and raising fears of rising crime rates
- Gold trade is disturbed and local gold prices have dropped in a similar way to Migori.
- Consulted miners want ASM to be exempted from forced closure, as it is in fact an essential business for their communities’ livelihoods
- Supporting measures such as protective equipment (e.g. masks, goggles, hand sanitation gel) and support in formalization, in order to enable ASM activity to continue in a responsible manner under the supervision of miners’ organizations maintaining social distancing and other policies
- (If mines are still shut down): Emergency relief in terms of food and cash
- Awareness raising about COVID-19 in ASM communities
1John Hopkins Corona Virus Resource Center. Accessed March 29, 2020
2 Information obtained from George Kisekwa, member and Training Coordinator of Migori County Artisanal (MICA) Miners Cooperative Society Ltd.
3 Information obtained from Matt Hales, Co-founder of FARMERS OF GOLD – LOLGORIAN, Kenya, & USA. Quotes provided by Matt Hales, citing the words of local gold miners in his community.
4 Information obtained from ASGM Chair of Kakamega on March 29, 2020
Democratic Republic of Congo: Artisanal Mining Cooperative taking action
Artisanal Gold Council: Call to Action
Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) is reaching out to all stakeholders involved with, and focused on improving, the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector to consider taking six key actions to (1) reduce the impact of COVID-19 on ASGM and other rural communities; (2) counteract the potentially devastating effects of COVID-19 on livelihoods by ensuring that current ASGM improvement projects continue unabated; and (3) that efforts to create a more profitable, more organized, and safer ASGM sector are accelerated in the nearest future to put the ASGM community in a better state of preparedness for other potential shocks. Learn more and join the call to action at https://www.artisanalgold.org/covid-19-call-to-action/
Update 1: 26th March 2020
COVID-19 is having a direct impact on the livelihoods of ASM communities worldwide
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) directly provides a vital livelihood to over 40 million people worldwide 1 and tens of millions more family members and small business owners are reliant on the sector for their income.
The impact of COVID-19 on these communities found throughout the developing world is therefore very real and immediate. The typical working conditions at ASM sites involving many people in confined space with limited ventilation and their direct connection to the global economy through complex supply chains coupled with the rapidly increasing number of cases leaves miners and their families highly vulnerable to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.
To help, Delve is providing a platform to share insights directly from ASM communities and experts on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with which to inform discussions and support initiatives.
This week, various Delve contributors have been in contact with a range of ASM stakeholders to learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting these communities.
- Financial support as mines are being closed, global demand for minerals and metals is decreasing in line with reductions in manufacturing and demand, and exports are becoming challenging due to ground and air travel restrictions.
- Emergency relief to help miners travel home to various regions and have somewhere to live, sleep, and eat while they are awaiting travel bans and quarantines to be lifted.
- Health education and communication to prepare and sensitize communities on COVID-19 preventative behaviors, including hand and respiratory hygiene, and provide reliable sources of science-based information to counteract misinformation in order to help reduce the spread of the virus and build social capital and trust for national government and NGO public health interventions.
Ghana: Flight restrictions are causing gold markets to collapse
ASM Workforce: Over 1 million artisanal and small-scale miners mainly extracting gold
COVID-19 Country Status: 27 COVID-19 cases, including 53 cases and 2 deaths (25/03/2020)
Government Action: Effective 23 March for an initial two weeks 4
- All boarders closed
- All schools closed
- Suspension of all educational institutions, conference, political rallies, sporting events, religious events, and private gatherings exceeding 25 people
Impact on Miners: Gad Amankwah Amoah (@AmankwaahGad) Mining and Investment Consultant and Researcher, CEO of Foks Investment and Mining ltd. has been supporting community ASM in Obuasi, Ashanti Region and provides the following update:
- Usual gold price received by ASM communities is 95 -98.5% of the LBMA spot price. Currently, due to effects of COVID-19, this is down to 65-70%, making mining very economically challenging.
- All gold produced by ASM is exported through the government and most is sold to buyers in Dubai. But Emirates, the only airline flying this route, has suspended all Ghana flights until 20 May, meaning that very little gold is being bought and exported, leading to the slump in price.
- Though there is a restriction on any gathering above 25 people, this has not affected ASM in general, since technical clusters at most ASM sites are below this number.
- Before 20 March, many exporters were able to export their gold, but the COVID-19 situation has made them too insolvent to operate. The local buying agents who could sell to exporters in major buying cities are also insolvent. As the price continues to drop daily, exporters and local buying agents will lose thousands of dollars’ cedi equivalent.
Rwanda: Travel restrictions and mine closures are hurting communities economically
ASM Workforce: 30,000-60,000 artisanal and small-scale miners and quarrying activities
COVID-19 Country Status: 41 COVID-19 cases total (as of 25/03/2020)2
Government Actions: Effective 22 March for an initial two weeks3
- Borders are closed except for returning citizens who will be quarantined for 14 days
- All non-essential business is closed
- Travel between cities and districts is suspended
- Unnecessary movements outside the home are not permitted
- Schools and places of work remain closed
Impact on Miners: Reports from direct communication with the head of an ASM company in Rwanda indicate:
- Activities at all mines, except those with highly mechanized operations, is suspended with no pay for workers
- Without pay – which for a laborer can be as little $1 per day for ‘washing minerals’ – life will become very challenging very quickly
- People who were working and staying at mines away from home are the most affected, as they cannot return
- People returning from Kigali to other districts, towns and villages before the travel restrictions have been quarantined for two weeks
Democratic Republic of Congo: Metal price drop and travel restrictions slow operations
ASM Workforce: 2 million artisanal and small-scale miners
COVID-19 Country Status: 45 COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths total (as of 24/03/2020)5
Government Action: Effective 24 March 6 , the national government has extended the measures announced on 18 March 7
- Gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited
- Schools and universities are closed for four weeks
- All public religious gatherings and sports activities are suspended for four weeks
- Bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants are closed
- Human remains are to be transported directly to morgues, with a limited number of mourners, rather than holding large, traditional funerals at home and public mourning
- All international passenger flights from high-risk countries are suspended
- New measures were also introduced:
- Prohibition of flights, buses, trucks and river travel to/from Kinshasa
- Closure of all land borders, except for freight
- Government placed on “minimum service” and the majority of offices closed
- Cities and provinces have already put into place different restrictions and regulations including:
- 48-hour quarantine periods and road block to prevent entry/exit to the cities of Kolwezi and Lubumbashi
- Closure of non-essential shops and informal markets, with the exception of food and medical goods
- Limitation of passengers on public transit in Kinshasa
- Prohibition of price gauging after reports of maize flour sacs tripling in price the week of 16 March
- Temporary workforce reduction requirements at large-scale mining (LSM) operations and leave for “non-essential employees”
Impact on Miners
- Transit between cities and provinces in the former Katanga region has been severely restricted, and many miners (both LSM and ASM) cannot return to their workplace or home
- There are no known national, provincial or municipal restrictions announced for ASM, much of which occurs informally on privately owned LSM concessions, without the operators’ consent or legal status.
- ASM sites continue to operate but due to price reductions at LME production has dropped at some sites and global trading is slowing.
Resources on COVID-19 Impact on ASM
- Artisanal Gold Council: Possible Impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM communities. March 23, 2020
- Delve: Informed consent questionnaire for COVID-19 impact on ASM sector. March 26, 2020