A person sits on the ground with a mallet in his hand and rocks in front of him. Credit: Pact

Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

Pact brings together government, industry, miners and mining communities to make ASM safer, formal and more productive, while making the most of ASM’s contributions to development.

Artisanal and small-scale mining, or ASM, is a largely informal economic sector that includes workers around the world who use basic tools to extract from the earth everything from gold and gemstones to vital metals such as cobalt, tin, tungsten and tantalum.

ASM is important for several reasons. These metals are critical to the world’s economies – necessary for computers, mobile phones, airplanes, medical devices, rechargeable batteries and much more. A significant portion of these metals are produced through ASM. As long as the world demands these products, artisanal miners will continue to dig for the minerals they require, often under dangerous, exploitative conditions that include child labor and other human rights abuses.

But turning our backs on artisanal miners is not the answer. ASM provides a vital livelihood for nearly 45 million people around the world, with tens of millions more people also dependent on the sector, including family members and small business owners along the ASM supply chain. Artisanal mining is an important driver of development in communities from Africa to Asia, where there are often few other opportunities available for generating income. We know that ASM contributes positively to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, and with inclusive, comprehensive formalization, the global community can mitigate ASM’s negative impacts.

What We Do

Pact has been working to improve the ASM sector and the lives of artisanal miners for more than a decade.

Currently operating in Africa, Asia and South America, Pact works in partnership with governments, industry and artisanal miners themselves to make ASM formal, safer and more productive and equitable. Pact’s efforts are helping to reveal and make the most of ASM’s contributions to development.

A global footprint: Pact's Mines to Markets program is improving the lives of artisanal miners across the world.

We specialize in health and safety in mining, human rights, traceability and transparency, economic empowerment among miners, mercury abatement, child labor reduction, mineral due diligence and ethical sourcing. Our programs help communities gain lasting benefit from mineral resources by using them more sustainably. About one-third of the people we serve are women, which is consistent with their representation in the global mining sector.

Our Impact

In Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, Pact’s programming has markedly reduced child labor at mine sites where we work. In Tanzania, we are helping women miners earn fair prices for artisanally mined gemstones. In Mali and Sierra Leone, we are reducing the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining. We also improve governance in the countries where we work, strengthening local, regional and national institutions.

For more than a decade in central Africa, Pact implemented ITSCI, a traceability due diligence program for the responsible sourcing of tin, tungsten and tantalum. ITSCI is the only industry initiative with standards independently confirmed to be 100 percent aligned with OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. ITSCI is lauded by independent researchers and institutions for its self-financed approach that has hastened formalization. In 2023, Pact transitioned its role in ITSCI to local management. 


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Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining PROJECTS


What is artisanal and small-scale mining, or ASM?

Who engages in ASM and why?

Why is ASM important to the world’s economies?

What challenges does the ASM sector face?

Why are ‘artisanal’ and ‘small-scale’ miners grouped together as ASM? Aren’t they different?

If ASM can be dangerous and exploitative, why doesn’t Pact simply discourage ASM?

How is Pact working to improve the artisanal mining sector?

Why is ASM formalization so important?

Who makes up Pact’s Responsible Mining team?

Who does Pact partner with in its efforts to improve the ASM sector?

How can various stakeholders connect and partner with Pact?

Where can I find more data on the ASM sector?

How does ASM affect the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?