re. COL-2014a: The 314,000 seems to be on the low side, while the 2,000,000 might be exagerated. Reality might be somewhere in between. UBC-14 calculated 268,000-418,000 for gold, whereby ASGM has recently increased significantly along the gold price. As ASM also mines gemstones, coal and other minerals, an estimated total of 600,000 is believed to be realistic.
Min/Max: 500,000 seems to be a realistic minimum. Conservative estimation of Max could eventually reach 1,000,000 (half of miners’ association data). → 500,000 - 1,000,000.
Female participation: According to MEM 2022 51 % of subsistence miners are female. The percentage is likely to be lower in small-scale mining, but an overall percentage of 25% appears to be a reasonable working hypothesis. → 150,000
Gold: Most likely 3/4 of total –> 450,000

2022: 95,000 subsistence miners

MEM: Resolución No. 40217 de 28 Jun 2022

La minería de subsistencia, ejercida tradicionalmente por las poblaciones rurales en 29 departamentos de Colombia, hace parte de su identidad y se constituye en un soporte para cubrir las necesidades básicas de 94,391 personas, de las cuales el 51.4% son mujeres.

2018: 314,000 – 2,000,000

(ARM-18), Table Annex 3: 314,000 –2,000,000 (inherited from COL-2015a)

2015: 314,000 – 2,000,000


ASM remains on the sidelines, despite official estimates that 314,000 people are directly involved in medium- and small-scale mining in Colombia, with the reality likely to be far greater. [2]
Endnote 2: This figure from the mining ministry contradicts figures from Conalminercol (the Colombian miners’ association), who suggest that up to 2 million people are involved in ASM in Colombia

2014: 314,000 – 2,000,000

(UBC-14): Gold-only data produced by statistic modelling: average = 343,000

Expected ASM population: 268,000 - 418,000 
Estimated ASM gold production: 41.1 - 50.8 t/a

(COL-2014a): 314,000 (government census) - 2,000,000 (miners confederation estimation)

Page 16-17: The latest data available to characterise the ASM sector in Colombia is the 2011–2012 mining census (MINMINAS 2012).  ... It is estimated that some 314,000 workers are directly involved in MSM and ASM. Footnote 5: Conalminercol, the National Confederation of Colombian Miners, claims that approximately two million Colombians depend directly or indirectly on ASM (Valencia 2012).

(SPDA-14): 51,826
Data apparently for gold and “illegal” only.
De acuerdo con el censo minero, en Colombia 51,826 personas trabajan en minas ilegales. Actualmente en el país 9,474 de estas personas, es decir el 18.28%, pertenecen a grupos étnicos: 1,048 son indígenas, 1,533 son raizales (caribeños), 6,870 son afrodescendientes y 23 son pertenecen al pueblo ROM o gitano.

1999: 150,000

(ILO-99): Employment: 100,000 - 200,000
Number of mines: 9,600
Illegal mines: +/- 70%

ReferenceYearCitationArchived CopyLink
ARM-182018Barreto, M.L.,Schein, P., Hinton, J., Hruschka, F. (2018): The Impact of Small-Scale Mining Operations on Economies and Livelihoods in Low- to Middle-Income Countries. ARM, Envigado, PACT,…
IGF-182018IGF (2018): Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM): A review of key numbers and issues. IIED/IISD, London,…
GMA-182018UNEP (2018): Global Mercury Assessment 2018. Technical Background Report E-Annex. Chapter 3.2. UNEP,…
COL-2015a2015IIED (2015): Participation as policy: time to formalise artisanal and small- scale mining in Colombia. IIED Briefing Feb 2015, ARM, IIED.…
COL-2014a2014Echavarria, C. (2014): ‘What is legal?’ Formalising artisanal and small-scale mining in Colombia. ARM,…
UBC-142014Seccatore, J., Veiga, M., et al. (Univ. of British Columbia - UBC) (2014): An estimation of the artisanal small-scale production of gold in the world. Scitotenv.…
SPDA-142014Heck, C., coord. (2014): La realidad de la minería ilegal en países amazónicos. SPDA.…
ILO-991999Jennings, N. (1999): Social and labour issues in small-scale mines. Report for discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Social and Labour Issues in Small-scale Mines. ILO,…
ASM DATA - Country Database Record
Country CodeCOL
ASM StatusExisting (data assessed)
Country Count1
Data year2014
Publ. year2018
ASM Miners600,000
- gold450 ,000
Data curation extrapolated
Inc. DevMinsome
- min.500,000
- max.1,000,000
- female150 ,000
ASM Commoditiesgold, gemstone, coal
  • country/colombia.txt
  • Last modified: 2023/11/24
  • (external edit)