Panning for data: Artisanal and small-scale mining and responsible sourcing’s contribution to sustainable development

EITI Global Conference: Partner Event

Session Summary

The session looked at how artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) contributes to extractive economies, and how EITI reports can cover this important but often times neglected sub-sector of the mining industry. The session was structured around two distinct but related discussions.

The first focused on the regional dimension of EITI implementation, looking at the Great Lakes region of Africa, where in 2010, 11 (now 12) Member States of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) endorsed the EITI as a critical tool to combat illicit trafficking of mineral resources. The session took stock of regional efforts to implement the Standard, focusing on the ASM sector, and seeked to identify ways to bring other Member States to join the EITI. The session also aimed to help EITI countries understand the added value of a regional approach to maximize the impact of the implementation of the EITI Standard in their jurisdiction.

The second session aimed to help participants better understand how EITI reports can adequately capture the contextual elements of the ASM sector, and accurately cover payments made in the ASM sector, building on experiences from EITI countries. The session therefore focused on the key challenges related to data collection (what does reporting on ASM in the EITI context actually mean? Who should report? What payments? How to include gender-disaggregated data?), and disclosure. The session also included discussions on how greater transparency through EITI reporting can support efforts to include gender analysis in the sector. 


  • Louis Maréchal, Investment Division, OECD

  • Sophie Makame, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

  • Hon. Doto Mashaka Biteko, Minister of Minerals, United Republic of Tanzania

  • Hon. Guylain Nyembo Mbwizya, Deputy Chief of Staff, Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Mukupa Nsenduluka, Program Coordinator, Extractive Industries, Oxfam, Zambia

  • Jimmy Munguriek, Director, Cadre de Concertation sur les Ressources Naturelles de l’Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Sven Renner, Program Manager, Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS), World Bank

  • Indra Thévoz, EITI International Secretariat

  • U Kyaw Thet, Deputy Director for the Department of Mines, Myanmar

  • Martin Ayisi, Deputy CEO of Minerals Commission, Ghana

  • Rachel Perks, Senior Mining Specialist, World Bank

  • Marc Banzet, Director, Natural Resources and Governance Division, Global Affairs Canada


There is high demand from a number of EITI implementing countries to strengthen reporting on the ASM sector. The sector is largely an informal one with limited available information on production, revenues, operations and even location of activities. Regulation of the sector is often inadequate and its real contribution to national economy is difficult to estimate. Estimates of employment numbers and production levels in the ASM sector vary but show that it plays a significant role, particularly in the development of the mineral sector. Several EITI countries have explored options to address issues in ASM, in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In doing so, they aim to (i) improve access to reliable data on artisanal mining; (ii) understand the contribution of ASM to the national economy; (iii) raise awareness on ASM related issues such as mineral smuggling, and (iv) support capacity building activities for formalisation of the sector and feasibility studies on how to cover ASM in EITI reporting.

Over the years, there has been an increasing attention around due diligence in ASM supply chains, with discussions focused around ASM extraction in gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten and now cobalt supply chains. There is an opportunity for the EITI and its partners to contribute to clarifying the circumstances of mineral production and trade, and the extent to which production comes from the ASM sector.  Artisanal miners themselves, through the adoption of the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Declaration in September 2018, have emphasized the need for enhanced transparency and accountability in ASM supply chains

International actors, including the OECD and the World Bank, have developed standards and tools to help formalise the ASM sector and establish standard due diligence mechanisms. These frameworks require strong processes in data collection and disclosure that can help companies undertake risk assessments in their supply chains. There is a need to ensure that the efforts of collecting, disclosing and updating data is shared across actors, and that international frameworks, including the EITI Standard, complement each other. Synergies should be developed to ensure that data and knowledge is shared with local and international actors. 

In recent years, a range of actors including the World Bank, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Inter-Governmental Forum (IGF) have also committed to enhancing data transparency on the gender gaps facing women in ASM. In April 2019, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, CSOs and private sector endorsed the statement: Stakeholder Statement on Implementing Gender-Responsive Due Diligence and ensuring the human rights of women in Mineral Supply Chains. At least an estimated 35 million people were directly engaged in artisanal and small-scale mining in 2018 (World Bank, 2019) with women’s participation ranging from as little as 10-90% depending on the mineral being mined. Despite women’s higher participation rates in ASM compared to industrial mining, women typically occupy the lower ends of the value chain. In turn, remuneration is often a third of what men earn in the sector but exposure to health and safety risks is often greater. 

Blog: Can the EITI support artisanal and small-scale mining as a driver for sustainable development? Here are three ways to get started.

Authored by Gabriela Flores, Senior Associate at International Institute for Environment and Development, and Louis Maréchal, Investment Division, OECD

Providing a livelihood to over 40 million people and their dependents and producing 20% of the world’s gold and diamonds, as well as 25% of tin and tantalum and a good proportion of other strategic minerals, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is integral to the mining sector – and the global economy.

ASM has the potential to drive local sustainable development – jobs, commerce and other opportunities – in some of the world’s most marginalised communities. However, the sector is more often than not neglected and thwarted by a lack of investment, poor policy frameworks, limited access to technology and know-how, among many other challenges.

At the recent 2019 EITI Global Conference, transparency and ASM experts and practitioners gathered to discuss how EITI reports could include ASM, and, importantly, how national EITI processes and regional frameworks, such as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), could help shift the sector towards greater productivity, equity and sustainability.

Traditionally, EITI reporting has focused on large-scale extractive industries. However, almost half of implementing countries include ASM in some way in their EITI work. For example, several countries include ASM when they describe the national context and the mining sector’s contribution to the economy (less so when supplying information about payments). In addition, EITI multi-stakeholder groups (MSGs) regularly engage with stakeholders active in the ASM sector, including with communities involved in ASM.

But, how can this add up to greater support for the sector? The discussion at the EITI conference, co-hosted with the OECD, was wide-ranging and insightful, and revealed that there are useful existing practices that could be built upon.


It is impossible to exaggerate the need for greater recognition of the actual and potential contribution of the ASM sector to local and national economies. Most of what is known about ASM focuses on what has gone wrong, such as its negative environmental impacts and poor working practices. While these are unfortunate realities in many producing countries, this is not the full picture.

ASM’s negative reputation hurts its legitimacy and its chances of receiving the support it needs to shift away from informality and thrive. Having a seat at the EITI table could help. In countries where ASM is not a legitimate or valued part of the mining sector, making sure that ASM is included in EITI reporting and MSGs’ discussions could generate a greater understanding of the sector’s contribution, and its potential and needs among key people in government, companies and civil society organisations.  

One of the speakers, an ASM expert, encouraged implementing countries to include ASM in their reports’ contextual information and help raise awareness of the sector’s positive contribution. “When you have transparency,” he said, “formalisation can follow”. The OECD’s work on responsible mineral supply chains, it was added, supports legitimate artisanal miners’ inclusion in global value chains and promotes ASM’s contribution in the national and international spheres. Nationally, ASM contributes to local economic and social development, and internationally, it produces a significant proportion of the minerals the world needs, not least to transition to a more sustainable future.

Bridging the data gap

Without adequate data, the right interventions and policies cannot come to fruition. Unfortunately, the ASM sector faces a historic deficit of accurate, reliable and up-to-date data. The 2019 State of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector report [link] reveals a ‘global data gap’ and notes that data on the number of people engaged in the sector on a country-by-country level is scarce, and often decades old. Where data does exist, it is difficult to disaggregate and get a clear picture of the gender, age, ethnicity, and educational background of those involved in the sector.

As one of the presenters noted, national EITI processes have developed strategies, tools and processes to collect high quality data. Most ASM ventures, he added, do not have expertise in data collection and data gathering technologies and the EITI could use its proven methods to start capturing ASM data. Other participants added that the 2019 EITI Standard includes environmental reporting and gender-disaggregated employment data, which could be invaluable. It was suggested that countries could also report on regulatory and fiscal regimes for ASM, processes for awarding ASM licenses, existing licenses and their locations, production and export estimates, who’s who in the value chain, and employment data.

There is also scope for collaboration and coordination between EITI and the ASM sector’s data gathering initiatives, including with the World Bank and Pact’s DELVE database, the OECD and others, to spark more evidence-based discussions about ASM. Data is most effective when it responds to users’ interests and tailored to their needs and preferences. For example, governments may want to understand revenue lost due to informality, miners may wish to use the data to prove their legitimacy when applying for finance, local communities may wish to assess environmental and social impacts, or consumers may be interested in knowing more about the origin of minerals in the products they use. 

Making women in ASM more visible

According to the DELVE database, more than 12 million women work directly on ASM, in a variety of roles, ranging from sorting through tailings to administration. Others are involved in microenterprises that service the sector, such as restaurants, and in the supply chain as buyers and transporters. But women’s role and contribution has remained unseen and unaccounted for.

Presenters and audiences alike suggested that EITI reporting could help. On the one hand, there is a need to understand better how reporting on gender in ASM can help advance the position of women in the sector and how best to collect it. In parallel, conversations are needed to explore how EITI stakeholders could work collaboratively with local organisations to gather data on women’s involvement in ASM.  

There were also calls for women in ASM to be represented on MSGs, while others suggested that working with women would help with formalisation processes. As a presenter put it, “the EITI creates an opportunity, not a burden.”

While these conversations and collaborations are just starting, they hold promise for ASM. A speaker pointed to the need for coordination between different initiatives, and to the potential benefits of regional approaches, such as that adopted by the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Its regional protocol against the illegal exploitation of natural resources makes a specific call to countries in the region to promote the EITI, support the formalisation of ASM and endorse the OECD Guidance.

Coordination among transparency and other initiatives could support formalisation and also compliance with due diligence guidelines to support responsible sourcing. Each of these initiatives, and indeed many others, have made gains, which if pooled together could bring significant benefits to a sector looking for a chance to thrive.

The session was held under the Chatham House Rule.