Keywords: ASM, small-scale mining, gold mining, artisanal mining, environment, environmental pollution, human health, health risks, Sudan, sustainable livelihoods, alternative livelihoods, poverty alleviation
The myth of alternative livelihoods: artisanal mining, gold and poverty
This paper aims to resolve a fundamental policy question: Should international institutions concerned with the environmental hazards produced by artisanal and small-scale gold mining attempt to direct miners into alternative livelihoods, or promote mining as a means of poverty alleviation? It is argued here that gold rushes are forces of economic history undeterred by policy, and that small-scale mining activities are expanding throughout the world because of gold's firmly rooted market value. Gold mining presents a unique opportunity for the world's poor, generating 3-5 times the income of other livelihoods, and international policy must be pragmatic about this reality.