As gold prices increased during the last years, it also did the importance of small-scale and artisanal mining as a strategy to generate incomes and improving the living conditions of certain sectors of the population. Due to the growing mining activity, environmental and social issues have also increased, such as mercury contamination, deforestation, water sources pollution, sedimentation, health and safety issues, child labor, and human rights abuses.
There is also an increasing interest in the origin of gold and gold producers’ practices from the industries, which are responding to national and international requirements for a responsible risk management of the supply chain, i.e., Dodd Frank Act, Modern Slavery Act, Due Diligence Guidelines, and Minamata Convention.
Small-scale and artisanal gold mining generates employment and revenues for over 30 million workers worldwide, feeding around 150 million people. Almost 500,000 people in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia are working directly in the small-scale and artisanal gold mining sector, benefiting approximately 2.5 million people, including their families and like services suppliers. Often the only means of livelihood for the concerned communities, ASM gold mining is usually carried out in harsh and dangerous conditions.