Artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) is largely an informal sector that involves miners working with simple tools and equipment to extract minerals.
ASM is widely spread in developing countries of various continents inclusive of Africa.
In Uganda, 150,000 miners are directly engaged in artisanal and small scale activities and indirectly supports millions of people.
The sector represents an important livelihood and income source for families in rural areas.
High rates of unemployment, economic instability of large scale mining companies and greater demand of some minerals accelerate the continued rapid growth of artisanal and small scale activities.
Artisanal miners are a precursor to large scale mines whereby they tap into mineral deposits that are of little economic value for large scale mining.
However, artisanal and small scale activities are often viewed as negative by authorities, environmentalists and other technical teams.
This is due to the continued use of hazardous chemicals, child labour in mines, high spread rate of diseases and conflict related areas. Women and children are generally the most affected by these hazards. Better approaches can be taken into account in the existing socio-economic system of mining. These aspects will enable the sector to have a greater impact.
This can involve interplaying of mining with other aspects of local economy to promote better integrated rural development strategies.
Technical assistance is required to increase production with social protection and fair labour standards. It is necessary to adopt a gender sensitive approach that incorporates the women working in different mines.
The miners can be financially supported through provision of loans and incorporated into government initiatives of Emyooga to expand their activities. Efforts to model supply chains for a fair trade mining market for the artisanal miners should be an icon across the supply chain.
Finally, artisanal and small scale mining is capable of alleviating poverty and promoting wealth creation.
Irene Kobusinge, Kobusingeirene882@gmail.com