Addressing artisanal and small-scale mining
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has long been recognised as an important issue with complex social, economic, environmental and governance dimensions that need to be addressed in an inclusive way. The World Bank estimates that ASM activities occur in about 80 countries worldwide and that there are more than 100 million artisanal miners globally. These informal operations represent an important livelihood and income source for the often poverty-affected local populations.
In recent years the magnitude of ASM has grown significantly, as has global attention paid to the issue. Governments, industry bodies and mining companies have sought to find a way to mitigate health and environmental impacts, and to provide participants with greater socio-economic and legal protection and support.
Considering that most activities in the ASM sector are informal and outside of legal frameworks, ASM remains a key material sustainability risk for AngloGold Ashanti. ASM takes place adjacent to or near eight of our sites/operations. The loss of gold-bearing ore, environmental degradation, the use of dangerous chemicals and human rights violations against vulnerable groups are among our primary concerns.
AngloGold Ashanti holds the view that the challenges of ASM can best be addressed by adopting a multi-stakeholder approach, with governments taking a lead role in addressing the issue along with artisanal miners, major mining groups, NGOs and development agencies.
While the risks associated with unregulated ASM and illegal mining on, or around, our tenements are mostly not within our direct control, our sites are guided by our ASM Framework and Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Management Standard. These policies encourage the co-existence of Company operations with legal ASM and seek to ensure the safety and security of our employees, assets and tenements.
We fully support well-coordinated strategies to regulate and manage ASM where it exists and where it is still being developed. We believe the way forward should be crafted around a co-existence framework, recognising different country-by-country dynamics and regulatory provisions.
Guided by the ICMM and the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), AngloGold Ashanti believes that a sustainable ASM industry can be established by building capacity through local institutional partnerships, encouraging miners to form cooperatives and associations, getting larger mining companies to support capacity building and by improving miners’ access to more efficient and cleaner technologies.
We are guided by the following overarching principles in our approach:
- Contribute towards the formalisation and regulation of legal ASM and include it into the broad streams of social and economic activities
- Contribute to the development of policy frameworks and practices which lead to a viable and sustainable legal ASM sector
- Consider geological research to identify mineral zones and deposits that can be designated as suitable for legal ASM
- Develop programmes for the promotion and transfer of appropriate knowledge, skills and technologies to the legal ASM sector
- Develop methods for identifying potentially viable legal ASM operations for targeted support
- Develop programmes for promoting downstream value addition in legal ASM
- Promote inclusive growth and economic activities
- Contribute to the development and strengthening of legal ASM associations to provide an interface for engaging with the sector
Progress in 2022
During the year, we continued to engage with global external and internal stakeholders to promote formalisation in the ASM sector. This included collaborative forums and knowledge-sharing sessions with industry peers arranged by the WGC and the ICMM. The West Africa ASM Workshop held in Accra (Ghana), for example, was organised by WGC to share knowledge on management approaches from a west African perspective.
We also continued to strengthen our efforts to support host governments’ formalisation initiatives. The establishment of the Multi-stakeholder Consultation Initiative for ASM Formalisation in Guinea boosted government efforts in the formalisation of ASM in Guinea and will pave the way for more support from our Siguiri mine.
Sensitisation campaigns on illegal ASM and the risks and dangers associated with the use of cyanide and mercury by ASM communities were also advanced throughout the Group, especially in Ghana, Guinea and Tanzania.
n 2023, we intend to complete the review of our ASM Management Standard in 2023, which will enhance our approach to dealing with the challenges and opportunities presented by the presence of ASM in some of our concessions. As always, we will strive to improve our collaborative efforts and to assist host governments and communities, and ASM associations in their efforts to formalise the sector within their respective jurisdictions.