2022 COVID-ASM Data Dashboards Explore new data snapshots on the changing needs of ASM communities since the start of the pandemic


The development challenges and opportunities of the ASM sector cut across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) provide ambition as well as the framework to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. They recognize that ending poverty goes together with economic growth, addressing social needs, environmental protection, and tackling climate change.

Through better data, Delve is providing a clearer path to help the ASM sector achieve and track progress towards the fulfillment of the SDGs. This data will also demonstrate the importance of ASM and ensure it is properly harnessed and recognized for its contribution to sustainable development worldwide.

Goal 1: No Poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

ASM is a largely poverty-driven activity that provides a vital economic lifeline to millions of people in rural communities. It is also a source of wealth creation and, if properly harnessed, can be a driver for social and economic development both locally and nationally by generating tax and export revenues, and through value addition activities.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Inextricable links and feedback mechanisms exist between mining and farming livelihoods. In rural communities, ASM supports agriculture by creating the capital needed to purchase equipment and fertilizers and is an additional market for local foodstuffs. ASM also extracts a significant number of development minerals used as fertilizers and in feeds. Yet, poorly managed mining destroys agricultural land and water bodies.

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

ASM can both positively and negative impact health and wellbeing. In the former, activities directly and indirectly support a wider range of livelihoods and provide a regular source of income and wealth generation for households and extended families. Yet, unless mitigating measures are put in place, the work is often arduous and working conditions can be poor, life-limiting and dangerous. Furthermore, communities located close to mine sites can be exposed to adverse social issues, excess dust, noise and pollution to their local environment.

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Education and training programs and institutions are needed to support artisanal and small-scale miners enhance the productivity and efficiency of operations and implement best-practice health and safety, management and environmental reclamation strategies. It is also well-documented that the income generated by ASM provides families with the funding needed to pay for schooling and higher education.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Women are very active in ASM; on average they account for 30–50% of the workforce and in some cases more than 90%. However, despite being more economically empowered through ASM than in other rural livelihood sectors, their participation is usually confined to lower paid roles, and they often face extreme discrimination both in law and due to social norms around land ownership, obtaining bank loans, becoming license holders, and mining in certain roles. Women can also face gender-based violence and are negatively impacted by the lack of sanitation and child care facilities in and around mine sites.

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

ASM activities are inherently linked to water; water is integral to the processing activities, and many mineral deposits, such as placer gold and sand dredging, are found in fluvial environments. When poorly managed, ASM can cause siltation, pollute through mercury and cyanide releases, and destroy sources of potable water for drinking, household activities, and agriculture.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Though operating on different scales of mechanization and electrification, energy is crucial for ASM operations. Energy is needed for lighting and ventilation of underground operations, and to power crushing and processing machines, water pumps for washing and sluicing, and earth moving equipment. A reliable and sustainable source of energy is also needed for value addition activities such as refining and smelting of metals, cutting and polishing of gemstones, and the finishing and manufacture of products made from development minerals and materials.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

By supporting the implementation of best practices in working and labor conditions, ASM can provide decent work for hundreds of millions of people. The sector is already an important generator of wealth for largely impoverished rural communities and directly employs tens of millions of people worldwide. Through the ‘multiplier effect’ ASM also supports many millions more people indirectly through livelihoods in associated industries. These include employment opportunities in a wide-range of skilled and un-skilled roles such as laboring, mineral processing, engineering, security services, accounting, catering, farming, and transport.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

ASM makes important contributions to infrastructure development especially in rural communities. In some context ASM directly produces materials used for infrastructure development (e.g. cobblestones) or its presence leads to the development of roads and other infrastructure. Many examples of local innovation and technology development for mineral extraction and processing can be found in the ASM sector. Formalization of the ASM sector can facilitate further access to financial services and integration into value chains to promote inclusive industrialization.

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries

ASM helps reduce economic and social inequalities in numerous ways. It is a largely poverty-driven activity that provides a vital source of income and supports hundreds of millions of livelihoods in some of the poorest parts of the world. The wealth generated is invested in households, community development, education, agriculture and alternative livelihoods. At the national level, ASM can boost government revenue, export, and value addition and manufacturing sectors.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Long-term, the wealth generated by ASM is often re-invested in housing, businesses and local communities. ASM also enhances resilience by providing alternative rural livelihoods to farming and provide capital for inputs such as seeds and fertilizers. ASM activities can also be taxed (formally and informally) to build local infrastructure such as schools, health centers, and roads. For example, to gain a social license to operate ASM companies may enter into agreements with local landowners and government and use machinery to fix roads. In rush-type situations, mining communities can spring up quickly without adequate infrastructure. When properly supported and managed, ASM can provide the springboard to develop inclusive, sustainable and resilient communities.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

ASM’s contribution to global mineral supplies is often obscured, but data demonstrates it is a key global producer for many mineral supply chains (e.g. Cobalt, Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten, Gold, Gemstones). ASM formalization is a key step to enable more efficient and environmentally sound methods for mineral exploitation by the sector.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

ASM helps many people affected by climate change to cope with its socio-economic repercussions by providing an alternative livelihood. By producing minerals (e.g. cobalt) that are critical for renewable energy, ASM can be linked to reducing the need for fossil fuels.

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

ASM activities such as dredging for sand and gravels, and alluvial deposits of gold, diamond and gemstones can often be found in coastal environments. Furthermore, the interconnected nature of fluvial ecosystems means that any upstream ASM activities located in smaller in-land tributaries, can impact downstream water courses and coastal marine environments.

Goal 15: Life on Land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

ASM activities, especially informal mining, can have significant impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, while mine rehabilitation and more environmentally friendly working practices offer the opportunity to restore and improve natural ecosystems.

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Equitable mineral resource governance requires effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions to ensure that local communities and society benefit from the wealth activities create. Furthermore, issues such as forced labor, human rights abuses, conflict minerals and “blood diamonds,” and conflicts over land and mineral rights between various stakeholders all fall under this SDG.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

It is only through partnerships at the local, national, and international levels that the potential of the ASM sector for socioeconomic development can be harnessed and the negative impacts addressed.