The Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Knowledge Sharing Archive

ASM Inventory

World Maps of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining

Map 1: Number of ASM miners per country

The oldest data is from 1999, the newest data is from 2021. Last database update: 2022-09-23

Estimation of global ASM population

Data from 82 countries allow for an estimation of 49.0 million miners directly engaged in ASM (range: minimum 42.5, maximum 63.8 million).

26% of them (12.7 million) are women.
37% of them (17.9 million) are dedicated to gold mining (i.e. ASGM miners).

Evidence of ASM exists in 18 additional countries, where the ASM population is not quantified.
Additionally, in 18 countries it is most likely that ASM exists, but no documentation has been found so far.
In total it is therefore estimated that ASM exists in 118 countries.

For further details (country data, sources, methodology and limitations) see Database.

Map 2: Percentage of ASM population per country

The percentage of ASM population per country is calculated for all countries with quantified ASM as the estimated number of miners (see map 1) divided by the country's total population. Additionally, the data popups indicate the percentage of the rural population engaged in ASM.

Map 3: Percentage of women in ASM per country

Gender-disaggregated data on ASM miners is available only for a few countries. For the countries without data on female participation in ASM, a best-guess estimation was attempted, based on the cultural context of the country, the type of commodities mined by ASM and - where available - existing data from neighbouring countries.

Data in this map should therefore be understood as "working hypothesis".

For further details (country data, sources, methodology and limitations) see Database.

Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM)

Map 4: Number of ASGM miners per country

The number of miners dedicated to Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is a subset ot the total of ASM miners. It is estimated that 17.9 million male and female ASM miners are dedicated to gold mining (i.e. are ASGM miners). This represents 37% of all ASM miners.

For further details (country data, sources, methodology and limitations) see Database.


This data compilation (database and map) was prepared by Felix Hruschka (author) from published and unpublished sources believed to be reliable. The research for this data compilation is fully independent, as it received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. Data and information are provided as of the indicated date of "last database update" and are subject to revision and update without notice. The author makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of this data compilation. It is provided "as is" for informational purposes only, in the spirit of contributing to ASM knowledge, and is not to be construed as providing endorsements, representations or warranties of any kind whatsoever. The author accepts no liability for any consequences whatsoever of using the data compilation. This also applies to any data referenced as personal communication from any external source.

COI disclosure (who is behind and why?): The database is my personal contribution to a better understanding of the importance of the ASM sector and expected to contribute to better public and corporate policies for the development of the millions of vulnerable ASM miners on the globe, who are still marginalized by most supply chains claiming to be “responsible”. This contribution is fully independent from my affiliation with ARM, but inevitably it reflects similar values, promoting the inclusive and sustainable development of a legitimate, responsible and profitable ASM sector.

Visitors of this site are cordially invited to contribute to ASM knowledge!
If you have any additional, better, newer or simply different ASM data for any country, please contact:

ASM Definition

What is Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM)?

The often quoted expression "Artisanal mining is meaning different things to different people" reflects the vast diversity of a sector for which, since the 1970s, it appeared almost impossible to agree on a common definition. In 2004, participants of the World Bank led "small-scale mining is here to stay - workshop" in Bulawayo still "defined" the activity by stating: "We recognize artisanal small-scale miners when we see them". A lot of progress has been achieved since. In 2012, for the purpose of distinguishing between ASM and other mining activities, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in Annex 2 of its Due Diligence Guidance, formulated an ASM definition that describes ASM as:

"formal or informal mining operations with predominantly simplified forms of exploration, extraction, processing, and transportation. ASM is normally low capital intensive and uses high labour intensive technology. ASM can include men and women working on an individual basis as well as those working in family groups, in partnership, or as members of cooperatives or other types of legal associations and enterprises involving hundreds or even thousands of miners. For example, it is common for work groups of 4-10 individuals, sometimes in family units, to share tasks at one single point of mineral extraction (e.g. excavating one tunnel). At the organisational level, groups of 30-300 miners are common, extracting jointly one mineral deposit (e.g. working in different tunnels), and sometimes sharing processing facilities."

OECD (2016): OECD Due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. 3. edition. Paris (FR): OECD. ISBN: 978-92-64-25247-9.