Average of (LAO-2018a) → 41,000
Min/max: in (LAO-2018a) indicated as 15,000 - 50,000
Female participation: between 50 per cent and 80 per cent in non-mechanised ASM → 50% of all ASM → 20,000
Gold: no data, but might be about 50% → 20,000

2018: 35,000–46,000

(LAO-2018a): 35,000–46,000
There are no precise estimates, but the large numbers of part-time ASM miners are thought to be equivalent to between 15,000 and 50,000 full-time miners, with 35,000–46,000 being the figure used in the most recent sectoral projections. Non-mechanised artisanal mining is known to take place in at least 11 out of 17 provinces, and is estimated to involve around 11 per cent of all ASM workers, while partly mechanised alluvial and hard-rock ASM has been reported in 9 out of 17 provinces, and involves around 89 per cent of the ASM workforce. However, both geographical distribution and participation levels are systematically underestimated. This is due to various reasons, including the fact that not all provinces have been covered in recent surveys, the itinerant and subsistence nature of ASM, lack of monitoring capacity by GoL and the miners’ reluctance to reveal themselves and talk about their activities for reasons considered above. (p.315)
While mining laws allow for and require permits for it (detailed in the next section), non-mechanised alluvial and hard-rock mining is often carried out informally by whole families, including women (who make up between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of the country’s ASM operators) and children.
Two main categories. The first involves small-scale mining undertaken without modernised production systems. These operations extract a mix of mineral and non-mineral resources, including gold. The second category includes manual and partly mechanised artisanal mining, primarily of gold, though other precious metals and stones, base metals like tin and construction materials

2016: 10,000

Personal communication by officers of Department of Mines.

2005: 5,000

GMP: 5,000

2003: 3,000

GMP: Information about the Project Sites in the LAO PDR:
There is no data reporting number of artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM), but it is estimated that in the whole country over 3,000 people are involved in such activity. In the Luang Prabang Province, it is estimated approximately 1,000 people directly involved in mining, in which more than 500 live in the project area. In the 8 villages of the project area, more than half of the population is engaged in ASM.

ReferenceYearCitationArchived CopyLink
GMA-182018UNEP (2018): Global Mercury Assessment 2018. Technical Background Report E-Annex. Chapter 3.2. UNEP,…
LAO-2018a2018Moretti, D, Garret, N. (2018): Chapter 15 - Artisanal and small‑scale mining governance: The ‘emerging issue’ of ‘unregulated mining’ in Lao PDR. In: Between the Plough and the Pick. ANU…



ASM DATA - Country Database Record
Country CodeLAO
CountryLao PDR
ASM StatusExisting (data assessed)
Country Count1
Data year2018
Publ. year2018
ASM Miners41,000
- gold20 ,000
Data curation as reported
Inc. DevMinyes
- min.15,000
- max.50,000
- female20 ,000
ASM Commoditiesgold, gemstone, base metals, tin, construction materials
  • country/lao_pdr.txt
  • Last modified: 2022/11/11
  • (external edit)