Last week, the World Gold Council asked that small-scale miners and large mining firms cooperate more. This was while the WGC was making recommendations that would facilitate the introduction of artisanal miners into the market and manage their interactions with larger miners.
Small-scale miners are miners who work independently in mines and aren’t official employees of mining firms. These subsistence miners, also referred to as artisanal miners, extract minerals from the earth using their own resources. Leading global institutions estimate that artisanal and small-scale gold mining accounts for about 20% of the newly mined gold supply yearly.
The World Gold Council recently published a report that includes input from various mining companies such as B2Gold, Newmont and Calibre along with a number of case studies from 25 projects/mines in 18 countries. The report details the experiences of mining from both larger players in the industry and small-scale miners and how responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining entities may be formalized.
The report also includes issues these subsistence miners face and how they could be addressed, including by providing equipment and training that would make mining less environmentally damaging and safer, allowing subsistence miners to work legally and facilitating the purchase of artisanally mined minerals such as gold. Generally, mainstream mining and refining companies have avoided working with these small-scale miners, who often don’t work within the legal frameworks, use basic equipment to extract minerals and employ children as well as the use of toxic materials such as mercury.
Despite these negative factors, pressure from both nongovernmental organizations and governments to bring more artisanal miners into the market has grown. This is because artisanal mining is the source of livelihood for over 15 million individuals in many regions across the globe, including South America and Africa.
In its report, the World Gold Council stated that mining companies needed to stop viewing small-scale and artisanal gold miners as a risk to the security of their mines. The authority on gold proposed that instead small-scale miners be viewed as an opportunity to improve local development outcomes, especially if local circumstances made it feasible.
The council, together with its member firms, support responsible mining and the trading of legitimately sourced gold including gold from artisanal miners. It believes that the responsible development of mineral resources, including gold, both through artisanal and small-scale gold mining and large-scale mining, has the potential to deliver various economic and social benefits to communities, countries and individuals.
It remains to be seen whether or not large-scale gold extractors such as StraightUp Resources Inc. (CSE: ST) (OTCQB: STUPF) will choose to implement the nonbinding recommendation by the World Gold Council in the areas where they operate.
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