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Artisanal and small-scale mining: protecting those ‘doing the dirty work’

Informal labour is a defining characteristic of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), and is seen as an underlying cause of many social and economic challenges facing the sector.

Approaches to formalising ASM mostly consider it a poverty-driven subsistence activity and take legalistic approaches, emphasising the need to recognise local people’s property claims. But these policy responses can misunderstand the complex and multi-tiered labour structure that exists within informal ASM. More inclusive formalisation policies are needed — policies that particularly seek to understand and improve the position of ASM’s large, mobile and often marginalised workforce.

Using empirical evidence from the Philippines, we identify the opportunities and challenges posed by a more inclusive approach to formalising ASM, and recommend potential policy responses.

This publication forms part of IIED’s work to identify pathways towards inclusive and responsible mining.

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