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