COVID-19 Impact on ASM News about how COVID-19 is affecting artisanal and small scale mining in the world

Update 1: Impacts of COVID-19 on ASM: 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: asmdatabase@pactworld.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.

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.

Key emerging needs among ASM operators:

  • 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

Country Overview
AS
M 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

Country Overview
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

Country Overview
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

Article Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda Gold, Tantalum, Tin, Tungsten Political, Formalization, Governance, Supply Chains, Economic, Access to Markets, Social, Gender, Health and Safety, Labor and Working Conditions, Livelihoods, COVID-19

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