As the top gold producer in Latin America, more than 250,000 artisanal miners and small-scale miners in Peru are deeply affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Although this labor force typically contributes up to 20% of the national gold production and has been in the process of being formalized, today it is very vulnerable. Thus, this pandemic makes evident the need for an inclusive policy that protects them and aims at transformating the sector.
Today as we observe International Day for Biological Diversity in the midst of a pandemic that has gravely impacted so many as well as the ecosystems on which we depend, the rallying cry to “Build Back Better” rings true for the ASGM sector, which has been disrupted by COVID-19 and, with the right support, has the potential to transition to more responsible and clean production methods that at the same time safeguard our planet`s biodiversity.
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.
Staff with the planetGOLD project team in the Philippines report 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.
Artisanal gold prices in Burkina Faso are slowly moving back toward levels seen prior to COVID-19, according to the latest update from staff working on the planetGOLD project in the country. They also report that the prices of consumer products are stable and have returned to the same level as before COVID-19.
For many women miners who scavenge for gold among rocks discarded by larger mining operations, the outbreak of COVID-19 has threatened their ability to make ends meet each day. In hard-hit Ecuador, help arrived for these women and their families in the form of food and cleaning supplies financed by voluntary contributions by their fellow citizens.