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The global trends of artisanal and small-scale mining

Artisanal mining provides 80% of world's sapphire

The artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) industry has seen a surge of growth over the past few years, following the increase of mineral prices.

This is according to a new report released by the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining , Minerla, Metals, and Sustainable Development.

The report states that the sector has expanded from 6mn people being directly engaged in ASM in 1993, to 13mn in 1999, 30mn in 2014, and 40.5mn in 2017.

Comparatively, only an estimated 7mn people were working in industrial mining in 2013.

There are an anticipated 150mn people living in 80 countries located in the global south which depend on ASM for their livelihood.


ASM accounts for approximately 20% of global gold supply, 80% of global sapphire supply, and 20% of global diamond supply.

The industry is also a strong contributor to the electronics industry, with ASM producing 26% of global tantalum and 25% of global tin.

“For many people in the world’s poorest countries, ASM is the only route out of poverty, or the sole way to boost meagre incomes when there are few job alternatives,” said Greg Radford, Director of IGF.

“This report will help our members support the sector’s potential to enhance livelihoods and spur economic development while managing persistent challenges such as improving health and safety and reducing the sector’s environmental footprint.”

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