Foreign investors are increasingly partnering with ASM operators to access mineral rights and reserves, in a high risk and high cost environment.
This has led to an upgrading of ASM operations and indirect technology diffusion across mining areas through 'demonstration effects', but this upgrading may disrupt existing benefit sharing arrangements between ASM laborers and pit-owners/license holders.
Upgrading of ASM, through capital infusion and technology advancement, is also accompanied by high environmental and occupational health and safety risks.
The constrained capacity of sub-national institutions and lack of cross-institutional coordination are hampering governmental efforts to monitor and improve environmental and occupational health and safety practices of partnerships.
Policy discussion is needed on the ASM-investor partnership model’s benefits and risks, and how best to harness its potential to upgrade the sector, as well as support the sustainable development of rural mining communities.
Effective institutional coordination among key government institutions, particularly at sub-national level, is urgently needed to reduce the high environmental and labor safety risks posed by mechanized small-scale mines.