Many projects in Africa support the development of the mining sector, with platforms like the Virtu Gem marketing platform, the Fair Cobalt Alliance and the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge advocating for the support of the African artisanal mining sector.
It is pretty clear that the attention and relevance given to the artisanal mining sector grows as countries rich in minerals seek additional ways to optimize their available resources. Using this momentum as a force of good to call for efforts to formalize and rationalize the entire value chain of the artisanal sector would be in the best interest of the ones whose voices cannot be heard over the greed.
Many countries that are rich in minerals choose to approach the artisanal sector formalization process using a rather fragmented approach, which fails to take into account the entire value chain of the sector that involves efforts from different parties, starting from the mining site to the world market. This chain includes buyers, financiers, independent processing centers, equipment providers, laborers and brokers.
Efforts usually concentrate on two key areas, which are, how to collect the sector’s output and a licensing strategy. This disregards all the other elements that complete the cycle, which means the cycle is stuck in a never ending cycle of lukewarm results and resistance.
The artisanal sector value chain represents a demographic that needs to be integrated and uplifted into the formal economic system but has instead been severed from the system. Formalization would allow participants in the sector to find suitable legitimate roles and entry points in the market which would offer them economic empowerment.
However, for formalization to be addressed entirely, certain practices need to be stopped such as poor employment conditions, poor health and safety protocols, violence, adverse environmental practices and the participation of child labor.
Governments need to occupy the biggest role in formalization by;
- Ensuring that the sector is supported in a way that enables it to adopt and uphold principles that support ethical and responsible mining practices
- Creating appropriate standards and rules for the sector with guides that are achievable
- Providing guidance, assistance and oversight that will enable the sector to outgrow its present deficiencies
While these may help resolve the issues that plague the artisanal sector, governments are also required to be proactive by providing mining entities with access to an expansive set of services, skills and technical support. This will not only strengthen formalization efforts but also enable the individuals in the sector to move to positive economic and social interactions.
The success of the formalization efforts in the artisanal mining sector in Africa will largely depend on how well the mineral rich governments can provide comprehensive solutions that will lead to effective control over the artisanal sector. It would be interesting to hear what suggestions mining sector players like Bullfrog Gold Corp. (CSE: BFG) (OTCQB: BFGC) (FSE: 11B) have regarding the most practicable ways to formalize the artisanal mining segment in Africa.
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