Lessons learned on managing the interface between large-scale and small-scale gold mining

Driven by low barriers to entry, high gold prices and high levels of poverty, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is one of the rural livelihoods in fastest growing in many developing countries, according to a new report released by the World Gold Council (WGC) states.

He points out that the vast majority of ASGM occurs outside of legal frameworks and that the sector is a source of major environmental, social, human rights and governance concerns.

In seeking ways to improve the governance and performance of ASGM, the report calls for inspiration from Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Global Partnerships.

The report shows that many leading gold mining companies are addressing ASGM issues, both in and around their mines and at the political level.

Where circumstances permit, they welcome the opportunity to work with governments, industry groups, civil society organizations and responsible artisanal miners to better understand how to reduce the negative impacts of ASGM and improve outcomes. in development, says the council.

Additionally, collectively through the WGC, they are committed to protecting the integrity of the gold market from illicit flows and reducing the marginalization of responsible ASGM in legal gold markets, notes The report.

The report points out that the context in which ASGM takes place varies widely, so a generic approach cannot be prescribed.

The report therefore highlights that lessons learned in one context are not necessarily applicable in others and that the LSM/ASGM interface is only part of the bigger picture.

Importantly, the ability of companies to constructively interact with or work with ASGM entities to improve their socio-economic, governance or environmental performance is hampered by the lack of progress in formalizing ASGM activities. responsible.

Solutions to this challenge require government leadership, the report points out.

It therefore aims to provide a platform for LSM companies and other stakeholders to share not only their challenges, but also the progress they have made through dialogue, engagement and collaboration.

In particular, he draws attention to the need to put in place the right incentives and regulatory frameworks.

The report contains contributions from 15 companies working in 18 countries as well as material provided by the Swiss Better Gold Initiative and the Alliance for Responsible Mining.

MAIN FINDINGS

Key lessons learned from the experiences of LSMs and industry social practitioners include the crucial role of governments in formalizing ASGM and protecting investments made by LSM companies.

The importance of building constructive LSM/ASGM relationships is emphasized, with trust seen as fundamental, despite significant cultural differences between ASGM and LSM in building successful relationships.

The report highlights that LSM miners need to understand the context and the often very complex socio-economic and governance factors at work among local ASGM operations – including red flags such as possible taint by criminal groups or corruption.

The report contains guidance on constructing a baseline assessment.

Controlling immigration and not rewarding confrontational or disruptive behavior is fundamental to developing more constructive and stable LSM/ASGM agreements, he stresses.

The report indicates that in terms of corporate organizational models, a holistic approach is required for successful LSM/ASGM management.

This will likely involve multiple corporate functions, including safety, health and environment, operations, social performance, legal, exploration and security.

The WGC advises companies to consider going beyond risk management to judge whether LSM/ASGM cooperation could generate business opportunities.

The report notes that formalization often depends on the ability of ASGM entities to adopt effective organizational structures.

Improving the rate of gold recovery can help miners absorb the additional costs associated with formalization and LSM companies may need to remain committed for the long term when promoting mercury-free technologies when they become involved. associate with ASGM entities, he notes.

The report indicates that companies can benefit from working with civil society partners or external specialists on certain complex social issues and from working with mining chambers on collective advocacy around the management or formalization of ASGM and the implementation of good practices.

The report also cites the need for market access for responsibly produced ASM gold. He points out that illicit flows are increased by the inability of some legitimate ASM productions to meet the due diligence requirements of major gold markets.

This requires mobilizing a range of state, supply chain and industry actors to support responsible mineral processing and market access, he says.

Finally, the report notes the need for formal mine closure and post-closure agreements with responsible ASGM entities to secure livelihoods and protect the environment.

CASE STUDIES

The report includes 36 case studies focused on managing the interface between LSM and ASGM.

A range of locations and project types have been selected to show that corporate initiatives in managing ASGM do not rely on a single set of ‘solutions’.

In fact, the sustainability of even the most successful LSM/ASGM projects can be compromised by factors such as regulatory changes, conflicts, natural disasters or changes in management.

The report notes that it can be difficult to identify durable solutions in complex circumstances.

Alongside the case studies, there are also contributions from several external stakeholders who gave their perspective on the LSM/ASGM interface.