Last updated May 15, 2020. We will continue to monitor the response to this evolving situation and update this page as often as possible.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever it’s important to share insights and resources among the global community working on artisanal and small-scale gold mining—in order to help advance response efforts that can support and protect vulnerable ASGM communities around the world.
Below we provide updates from planetGOLD programme staff about how the virus is affecting ASGM communities in their countries and their recommendations for ways to respond. We also highlight resources from other organizations and initiatives in the global ASM community that are monitoring the situation.
planetGOLD Project Updates and Resources
May 15 update: The Philippines team reports that as a result of the Enhanced Community Quarantine that has been imposed due to COVID-19, women in the small-scale mining town of Itogon are facing various livelihood and economic challenges, and there are indications that gender inequalities are now exacerbated. This article sheds light on the situation these women face, and recommends several responses to improve gender equality. Read the full article.
Project staff from the planetGOLD Philippines project published an article about the impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM in the country and suggest steps to help protect the ASGM sector. Highlights from the article include:
- As of April 8, gold was being sold on average at a 16% lower price than it was prior to quarantine.
- Informal workers, now the most vulnerable to the impacts of the coronavirus, have no income safety net and are forced to consider working to feed their families.
- A solution was proposed to create a short-to-medium term financing mechanism that would constitute an emergency buying fund.
May 13 update: Project staff in Burkina Faso report that with the lifting this month of restrictions on movement, all ASM mining sites are operational again and artisanal gold prices are slowly moving back closer to levels seen prior to COVID-19. Read the full update.
The project director for the planetGOLD Burkina Faso project contributed to an article by the Artisanal Gold Council about impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM there. Data from their contacts and field teams shows that:
- The Burkina Faso ASGM supply chain has contracted and in some places, collapsed.
- The pit-side price paid for gold has dropped over 20%, from about 73% of world price pre-virus to just 58% of world price now.
Many ASGM miners report needing to sell their ore at any price in order to be able to feed themselves and their families.
May 7 update: The planetGOLD Peru team, in partnership with a group of civil society organizations and with the support of international cooperation, has launched an "ASGM without COVID-19" campaign aimed at spreading information about health and safety precautions and promoting responsible practices during the gradual reactivation of activities in Peru's mining sector. They have released a primer booklet on good health practices (in Spanish) and the team will be housing all materials on this campaign page.
In April, the planetGOLD Peru team published an analysis reporting:
- The cessation of artisanal mining activities has affected more than 1 million Peruvian families, who subsist directly and indirectly from ASGM.
- The health emergency has crushed gold prices locally, generating excess volume that either cannot be sold, or is sold at a steep discount (as little as 50% of the international price).
- Formal buyers of ore are largely absent and speculation of the price of gold by the black market.
Looking ahead, the Peru team makes 7 recommendations such as: signing express agreements with new gold trading companies that ensure the acquisition of ASGM at a fair price; supervising the beneficiation plants and gold trading points so they can collect gold ore at a market price; and developing awareness campaigns on sanitary measures for safe mining work.
In Ecuador as in many countries with ASGM activities, staying home presents a significant challenge for many people in Ecuador who cannot afford to stop working and go without their regular income. In an act of solidarity, planetGOLD's partner project in Ecuador is coordinating a voluntary fundraising campaign to provide food and other essentials for dozens of women miners and their families. Read more and see the video with messages of support for the women.
April 24 Update: Project staff with the planetGOLD Guyana project published an article about COVID-19's emerging impacts and suggested steps to coordinate response efforts. Highlights of the article include:
- The COVID-19 outbreak is in its early stages, with 334 persons being tested, 67 cases confirmed, and 7 deaths officially recorded as of April 21, 2020.
- The appearance of COVID-19 cases in some mining towns, although proportionally small, is worrying. These centers have close ties with nearby indigenous communities and are home to several vulnerable groups.
- Gold prices are pegged to the London Fix price and have increased locally. Mining activities continue as per normal in many areas, as the sector has been declared an essential service.
In early April, the planetGOLD Indonesia project conducted a survey of 50 respondents across six project locations. In this fact sheet they report:
- As of 1st April 2020, there were no reported cases in any of the six project locations.
- Thirty-four percent of miners have stopped working, but this is very dependent on the location.
- Mining has been less impacted by COVID-19 in remote areas than in the more populated areas of Nusa Tenggara Barat and Java.
April 20 Update: The Indonesia project conducted an additional survey across six project locations to better understand the status of gold market prices amid the pandemic. In this fact sheet they report:
- The Government has implemented social distancing measures including miners moving in and out of mining areas.
- Gold market prices have increased, but there is no indication that ASGM miners gain significant profits from the increase due to challenges posed by the pandemic.
- There is a disruption of cash flow in and out of the mining sites and on supply of mining-related materials and services.
The communications team is also sharing health and safety messages with project sites, such as this video, using WhatsApp and via social media.
Project staff from the planetGOLD Mongolia project published an article about the limited impacts COVID-19 has had on the country and ASGM sector so far, while noting that the situation is fluid and can negatively impact some more than others. They
- Authorities in Mongolia credit early, rapid precautionary measures against COVID-19 throughout the country with keeping the number of infections there low to date.
- According to miners and gold traders, local gold prices in Mongolia have not yet been strongly affected.
- With all schools closed until September 1, 2020, female miners are faced with the choice of foregoing income to stay home and care for their children, or bringing their children with them to an active mine site with its risks.
Monitoring the Impacts of COVID-19 on Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining – Read the recent blog article by Kenneth Davis, Programme Officer in the Chemicals and Health Branch at UNEP
Statement on COVID-19 – Read the statement from Ludovic Bernaudat, Programme Manager for planetGOLD
Resources from the Global ASM Community
- Alliance for Responsible Mining and Solidaridad: Impact of COVID-19 on artisanal and small-scale mining
- Artisanal Gold Council: Impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM communities, Call to Action and Burkina Faso – Gold Prices Rebound Slightly (up to 79% of spot)
- Delve: Impacts of COVID-19 on ASGM
- IMPACT: COVID-19 & ASM: Illicit Traders Cashing In on Vulnerable Miners in Conflict-Prone Areas
- Levin Sources: ASM, Responsible Sourcing and COVID-19- An Initial Analysis and Six Reasons Why COVID-19 Response Planning Should Prioritise ASM Communities
- OECD: Call to Action for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains & Civil Society Call to Action
- Responsible Jewellery Council: Update: COVID-19
- Solidaridad: Preventing COVID-19 in Mining Communities
Resources from Global Health Organizations
- World Health Organization Advice for the Public
- Pan American Health Organization Communications Materials
- WHO Africa COVID-19 Page
- WHO South-east Asia COVID-19 Page
- WHO Western Pacific COVID-19 Page