Artisanal and Small-scale Mining and the Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and New Directions for Sub-Saharan Africa

G. Hilson, Roy Maconachie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper explains how formalizing and supporting artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – low-tech, labor-intensive mineral processing and extraction – would help governments in sub-Saharan Africa meet several targets linked the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While most of the men and women found working in ASM in the region choose to operate without the requisite permits and are rarely monitored or regulated, the local impacts of their activities are significant. After examining the long historical trajectory that has relegated most ASM activities in sub-Saharan Africa to the informal economy, three of the sector’s more obvious economic impacts are reviewed: its contribution to regional mineral outputs; how operations create employment opportunities for millions of people directly, and millions more in the downstream and upstream industries they spawn; and the links the sector has with subsistence agriculture, dynamics which have important implications for food security and gender equality. These contributions alone are sufficient justification for featuring ASM more prominently in the plans, policies and programs being launched in sub-Saharan Africa to help host governments meet their commitments to the SDGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Oct 2019


  • Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM)
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this