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Democratic Republic of Congo

Artisanal mining in the DRC has had a long history of widespread economic importance. In the 1980s, artisanal miners primarily focused on diamonds, but during the 1990s increases in demand for tantalum, tin and tungsten fueled further diversification of the sector. Today, artisanal mining has extend its activity to gold, cobalt and copper. The country has received significant attention from the international community in the forms of legislative action and due diligence programs seeking to support the sector's development as well as respond to the range of political, economic and social challenges in DRC. Read more in the Democratic Republic of Congo Country Profile


Number of People
Working in ASM

Photograph by Mickaёl Daudin

An estimated 500,000 to 2 million people were directly dependent on artisanal mining activities (mainly gold, cassiterite, coltan, and diamonds) (Bryceson and Geenen 2016, 304). A 2020 study by IPIS has mapped about 2,951 mines, employing 427,469 artisanal miners in eastern DRC alone (IPIS Webmap, 2020). The World Bank estimates that for each miner directly involved in artisanal mining, four to five persons indirectly rely on the sector. Consequently, artisanal mining contributed to the livelihoods of 8 to 10 million people in 2008 (World Bank 2008, 56), representing up to 16% of the Congolese population.

Engagement in ASM can be on a full-time or seasonal basis and can therefore constitute a primary or additional source of income. For many, artisanal mining has the advantage of presenting low entry barriers, enduring in fragile situations such as conflicts and generating more revenues than the agriculture sector. ASM represents a relatively good source of income in DRC. A recent study estimated that 3T miners earn around USD 2.7 and USD 3.3 per day in eastern DRC whereas 76% of the population lived with less than USD 1.9 a day in 2012 (de Brier et al. 2020, 9). Copper and cobalt miners have an average daily income of USD 7.65. Although 40% of the miners earn less than the Congolese legal daily minimum wage of USD 4.2, the daily rate may reach up to more than USD 50 a day (BGR 2019, 36).

Nevertheless, power structures do not shield miners from debt and poverty. In the ASM sector, investments and revenues are shared according to hierarchical roles.

Read more in the Democratic Republic of Congo Country Profile


Data Source:

Production Value (USD) by Mineral

Data Source:

Production Weight (KG) by Mineral

Data Source:

Democratic Republic of Congo ASM Diamond Production

Artisanal diamond production accounts for the majority of DRC diamond production. The significant increase in reported production from 2003 to 2004 was attributable to the Government’s participation in the Kimberley Process certification program for eliminating trade in conflict diamond and the abolition of the diamond export monopoly granted to International Diamond Industries (USGS 2004). It is estimated that diamond mining employed over half of the DRC's artisanal and small scale mining population (1,100,000 CASM 2007) at peak production in 2007. The sharp decline in production from 2007 to 2008 cites the worldwide economic crisis (USGS 2008).

Data Source: IMF 2005, USGS 2005, USGS 2010, USGS 2015

IMF 2005: Based on staff estimates
USGS 2005 & USGS 2015: An estimated 20% of total diamond is gem quality; the majority of production is from artisanal mining.


The data presented in this Version 1 of the Delve platform are from secondary sources and reflect data availability on the ASM sector. All data, countries and minerals are not yet represented. Data will be added on an ongoing basis as the global data gap on ASM continues to be filled. Visualizations created with Highcharts.com under a Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-NonCommercial license.

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