Compendium on Best Practices in Small-Scale Mining in Africa

This compendium gathers learnings from aspects of policy and legislation, technology, technical assistance and training programs and number of other pertinent initiatives and interventions that encourage ASM’s sustainable development, using case studies to demonstrate the efficacy of each approach.

Small-scale mining (SSM) is an activity that is increasingly gaining momentum in Africa. It is largely practised in rural areas by artisans who lack the requisite education, training, management skills and essential equipment. Small-scale miners also lack financial resources with no access to bank loans. Very often, the mining operations are done haphazardly with severe consequences to the environment, the surrounding, and even distant, communities and to the miners themselves. Other constraints include lack of technico- economic information for long-term planning. Although SSM in Africa is still far from achieving its full potential, there are indications of positive efforts by individual countries to promote the sector. The practices documented herein represent some of the examples, selected through literature review and consultations, of how the sector can be promoted to ensure its positive contribution to the establishment of sustainable community life and rural economic development. Most initiatives have been isolated practices that do not reverse the poverty cycle that limits development of the SSM sector in Africa. There is limited evidence of participatory integrated approaches that aim to promote and develop the sector through putting clear policies, strategies and implementation plans in place. Most approaches have been developed to respond to a certain crisis, e.g., dealing with mining rush gangs. Promotion of the sector should be done in an integrated manner in order to ensure that:

· Legal, organizational, technical, management, environmental and socioeconomic issues are accorded the same importance;

· Programmes for promotion of the sector take into consideration the need to integrate mining activities within much wider rural development programmes as the “mining-alone” programme approach, usually dealing with isolated issues, has very little overall impact;

· Poverty reduction strategies are mainstreamed in the mining policies of member States and where relevant SSM is integrated in their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs); and

· Provisions and incentives exist to encourage illegal SSM activities to evolve into legal, licensed small businesses.

Putting an efficient legal framework in place without enhancing the financial capacity of miners or raising their awareness of their legal obligations does not help to eradicate illegal mining activities. Similarly, enacting regulations for improving health and safety standards or environmental management without improving access to technology, finance, information and support services might have little long-lasting impact. Even, where all these have been put in place, other factors have to be considered, such as ensuring that at government level there is adequate human and technical capacity to support the sector and enforce laws and regulations in a sustainable manner. The practices documented in this compendium as best practices should help:

(a) Countries wishing to develop strategies for promotion of the sector;

(b) Countries wishing to review their current strategies in order to improve effectiveness;

(c) Donor agencies wishing to develop assistance programmes; and

(d) NGOs, international development agencies and other interested parties working with the sector.

Additional Info

Y Suliman, A Pedro, W Mutagwaba, B Mikhael
Publication Year
Publishing Institution Webpage
Data Source Classification
Program Report
Research Type
Research Methodology
Thematic Tags
Political, Formalization, Governance, Social, Child Labor, Health and Safety, Technological, Education and Training, Equipment, Legal, Land Rights, Laws and Regulations, Licensing, Mineral Rights, Tax
Global/Multi-Region, Sub-Saharan Africa
Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Last Updated
September 9, 2019