Illuminating the path from mine to market

ASM Gold 1 Dec , 2022

Research findings on the barriers faced by ASGM



In our attempts to understand the ASM landscape, we compiled existing literature and reviewed the information and managed, in late September, to publish the study titled Overcoming Practical Barriers For Integrating Responsible Artisanal and Small-Scale Mined Gold into International Supply  Chains. The report was commissioned by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), in their role as global coordinator of Planet Gold programmes.

We are grateful to all the actors across the supply chain, including off-takers, gold traders, exporters, jewellery companies and standard setters from over 12 countries worldwide who lent their time to contribute to this body of work. 

ASM Mining
Miner in action

Mine to market: cost-effective mechanisms of getting ethical ASM gold to international refiners

The study is a first attempt in gathering lessons that can shed some light on the viability of getting ASM gold from mine to market. This report aims to share learning from various actors involved in ASGM Market Initiatives on the impediments of getting ASM gold to international markets. It is our hope that this report can serve as a conversation starter on the conditions needed to establish scalable and economically viable ASM mineral in the supply chains. 

gold value chains
Understanding different gold value chains. Source: RMI and researched by TDI sustainability

Driving the relative costs down is the obvious and crucial route to onboard AMPs

Not surprisingly, pricing is the primary incentive for AMPs and other actors in the supply chain. The first step is for the buying offer to be attractive to AMPs and competitive to the informal price offered to miners by other traders. 

Beyond price, interviewees shared a number of financial and non-financial incentives:-

Due to high costs of transport and aggregation, scaling gold volumes is the key to economic viability. In this context, positively, there are a range of ASGM Market Access initiatives that are building trust and establishing formal trading chains between ASM and ethical formal markets.  

Despite our inability to obtain accurate data due to the secrecy surrounding the trade, we have some estimates.

An overview of the cost factors to take into consideration when facilitating market entry for ASM gold *costs usually only encountered by formal markets

Geographical context: Local challenges informing global solutions

It is significant to mention that although the insights drawn come from different actors across different geographies and in different legal contexts, the highlighted challenges are what appeared to cut across all jurisdictions. The purpose of the report remains to inform key players (funders, leaders, and managers) of existing and planned ASGM Market Access Initiatives, by highlighting the impediments such initiatives face in establishing a flow of formal responsible ASM gold into international markets. 

While ASGM Market Access Initiatives alone cannot solve the many systemic issues facing artisanal and small-scale gold mining, (ASGM), they do offer a path to AMPs that have already established themselves as legal operations, can meet the basic expectations of relevant due diligence requirements, and for which international sales offer an uplift in their profitability. The practical barriers facing such ASGM Market Access Initiatives, and examples of how the barriers have been overcome, are the focus of this report. 

Take a moment to read the report to learn more on how the existing initiatives have figured out the logistical issues or just to get more details on the challenges faced in the ASM space. 

Feel free to reach out to the team if you have specific questions, queries or suggestions on how we can work together to help you improve your own set-up.