Artisanal and small-scale mining (legal and illegal)

Supporting formalisation

ASM often proliferates against a complex web of social, economic, environmental, legal and governance issues. ASM is a catch-all term that comprises artisanal miners who have engaged in manual digging and subsistence gold production for generations, as well as newcomers to the industry who are desperate to make a living. It also involves criminal networks that use exploitative practices to produce gold.

In all cases, there is little or no burden on these producers to rehabilitate the land they disturb, nor standards that govern how they produce their metal. Governments receive no benefit from the development of their natural resources. In some cases, the proceeds from these activities can be used to fund illicit activities, such as money laundering or terrorism, raising the stakes in the search for a lasting resolution.

Indeed, addressing the issue effectively is a major challenge and doing so will require creative and sustainable solutions. To date, there are a few examples of solutions that could be scaled up to deal with the rise in ASM amid higher commodity prices, climate change, migration and population growth.

This escalation in numbers and the complexity of challenges in some of the jurisdictions where we operate has necessitated a review of mitigation measures. These include additional resourcing and extensive dialogue with all stakeholders.

The impacts of illegal mining continue to be felt by both the company and the illegal miners themselves. As a company, ASM means we experience operational disruptions, and the loss of both gold reserves and production. Further, in instances where previously rehabilitated areas are targeted by ASM, additional rehabilitation costs are incurred.

The impacts for illegal miners are mainly safety and health related, with injuries and fatalities a constant risk alongside the negative health effects of the incorrect use of processing chemicals. The increase in ASM activities has also seen a rise in ASM fatalities as a result of illegal mining activities over the past two years.

The countries where AngloGold Ashanti has operations and projects affected by ASM are South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Mali, Guinea and Colombia. We seek harmonious co-existence with legal ASM through a two-pronged approach: providing direct support for the formalisation of ASM and promoting local enterprise development, which contributes to creating alternative livelihoods. We also work with country law enforcement agencies, which assist in protecting our mining tenements.

Our approach supports and promotes the concept of ASM formalisation. As reported previously, this is aligned to the Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development 2013 policy framework, and its 2017 guidance document to help governments implement strategies to regulate ASM. Successful formalisation requires significant cooperation and collaboration between governments, communities, civil society, the private sector and international bodies.

We will continue to work with all stakeholders around the challenges of ASM and illegal mining. We are working to identify sustainable solutions for the benefit of all stakeholders, in particular our host communities where many residents are reliant on ASM-related income.

Indicator 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Fatalities and injuries to community members whilst engaged in illegal activity, and not related to security interventions
Number of sites/operations where ASM takes place adjacent or near the mine1111111113

Prioritised SDGs

  • 1.2. By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

  • 8.2. Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.

  • 8.3. Promote development-orientated policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalisation and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.

  • 16.3. Promote the rule of law at national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all.

  • 16.7. Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.

  • 17.14. Enhance policy coherence for sustainable development.

  • 17.17. Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.