Tackling Threats from Illegal Mining

By: Jeffrey Haeni, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment

Around the world, at least 40 million people, mostly poor, work in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Though it is typically informal in nature and workers often labor under difficult conditions, ASM accounts for approximately 20 percent of the world’s production of gold, diamonds, tin, and tantalum, and 80 percent of colored gemstones.

The conditions can be dangerous and the pay low. Still, ASM is an important source of livelihoods for millions of people and tends to pay more than other options in many developing countries.

While a country’s mineral wealth can translate into widespread prosperity and social progress, too often this wealth leads to a downward spiral of corruption and violent conflict. In many developing countries, illegal and unregulated mining, particularly ASM, contributes to armed conflict, funds criminal networks, and damages the environment.

To help address these challenges, USAID is working with governments, civil society, communities, and the private sector to reduce the negative impacts of ASM, and ensure that the wealth generated contributes to more inclusive economic growth and development.

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