Sierra Leone

Total and Min/max: Published estimates and official figures coincide, indicating at least 300,000 ASM miners. Supposedly, these numbers refer mainly to gold and diamond mining and do not include ASM on the “some coltan and zircon” or development minerals. To compensate, it appears reasonable to estimate a range of 300-400,000 with an average at 350,000.
Female participation: no data. estimated in 20% (higher in gold mining, lower in diamond mining) → 70,000
Gold: Half of 300,000 → 150,000

2018: > 300,000

Government of Sierra Leone: Artisanal Mining Policy for Sierra Leone (

Artisanal mining is ongoing in more than half of the country’s 190 Chiefdoms. Artisanal mining is primarily for diamonds and gold although some coltan and zircon are mined. ... Alluvial diamond deposits are depleting; artisanal miners experience diminishing returns as they nonetheless continue to mine areas in hope of finding diamonds. Many have shifted to gold mining. Also, the emerging motor-cycle taxi business is attracting young men away from artisanal mining. Although no empirical data on the number of people involved in artisanal mining has been published, it is estimated that artisanal mining and related activities provides livelihood support to **at least 300,000** Sierra Leoneans and that upwards of 10% of Sierra Leoneans are impacted by artisanal diamond mining operations."

2018: 200,000

(ARM-18), Table Annex 3: 200,000
Quoting Hilson & Hilson (2015):

2018: 300,000

(IGF-18): Table 3

Directly working in ASM: 300,000
Estimated number of dependents: 1,800,000
Main Minerals: Gold, Diamonds

2016: 300,000


Directly working in ASM: 300,000
Estimated number of dependents: 1,800,000

2014: 437,000

(UBC-14): Gold-only data produced by statistic modelling:

Expected ASM population: 437,000 
Estimated ASM gold production: 3.5 t/a

2011: > 120,000

Cartier, Bürge 2011 - Agriculture and Artisanal Gold Mining: : “Bermúdez-Lugo (2010) estimated that there are 120,000 diamond and gold artisanal miners in Sierra Leone; but in reality, this figure is much larger.”

1999: 35,000

(ILO-99): Employment: 30,000 - 40,000
Number of mines: n/a
Illegal mines: n/a

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,…
HIL-162016Hilson, G. (2016): Artisanal and small-scale mining and agriculture: Exploring their links in rural sub-Saharan Africa. IIED,…
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.…
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 CodeSLE
CountrySierra Leone
ASM StatusExisting (data assessed)
Country Count1
Data year2018
Publ. year2016
ASM Miners350,000
- gold150 ,000
Data curation extrapolated
Inc. DevMinno
- min.300,000
- max.400,000
- female70 ,000
ASM Commoditiesgold, diamond, 3T, zircon
  • country/sierra_leone.txt
  • Last modified: 2022/11/11
  • by Felix Hruschka