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  • Writer's pictureCMIA

Can artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) be part of the critical minerals solution?

Updated: Jul 5

Latest estimates count more than 44 million people across 80 countries worldwide and about 134 million people work in related sectors to support ASM activities.


The CMIA was delighted to host an insightful discussion on the role of ASM in critical minerals supply chains.

The discussion focused on key themes:

  • Tackling misconceptions with education to raise awareness

  • Incentivising finance and impact investment to help support professionalisation

  • The journey of formalisation of the sector and flexible legal frameworks

  • Creation of reliable offtake purchasing and stable predictable relationships

  • Driving greater supply chain transparency in the context of geopolitics and investor confidence including space observation

  • Collaboration rather than allocation of responsibility to a single stakeholder

  • Inclusion at grassroots levels


A big thank you to our wonderful panellists for sharing their insights and expertise! And a warm thanks to all of those who tuned in and asked excellent questions.



  • Rosanna Tufo, Senior Advisor, Levin Sources

  • Rob Karpati, Partner and Senior Advisor, The Blended Capital Group

  • Terry Garde, Independent Consultant

  • David Livingstone, Director, Napier Meridian



  • Olimpia Pilch, Co-founder & COO, Critical Minerals International Alliance



You can find Rosanna's slides here:

Setting the scenes ASM Levin Sources
Download PDF • 1.19MB


What is ASM?


Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) – formal or informal mining operations with predominantly simplified forms of exploration, extraction, processing, and transportation. ASM is normally low capital intensive and uses high labour-intensive technology.


ASM can include men and women working on an individual basis as well as those working in family groups, in partnership, or as members of cooperatives or other types of legal associations and enterprises involving hundreds or even thousands of miners.

For example, it is common for workgroups of 4-10 individuals, sometimes in family units, to share tasks at one single point of mineral extraction (e.g., excavating one tunnel). At the organisational level, groups of 30-300 miners are common, extracting jointly one mineral deposit (e.g. working in different tunnels), and sometimes sharing processing facilities. (OECD 2016)


Key figures:

  • Latest estimates count more than 44 million people across 80 countries worldwide and about 134 million people work in related sectors to support ASM activities

  • Estimates in 2018, refer to 150 million people depending on the ASM sector worldwide

  • About 9 million ASM operators in Africa and 54 million whose livelihood depends on the sector (likely a conservative estimation)

  • ASM accounts for 18-30% of global cobalt production, 25% of tin production, and 6% of global tungsten production

  • 70-90% of ASM miners work informally (joining the 1.6 billion informal workers as estimated by the ILO)



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