Technical Challenges in Artisanal Mining


There are many different challenges faced by the artisanal miner, one of which is technical challenges. We have seen mining shafts as deep as 80 meters (260 feet) with small air hoses that miners’ breath into, securing themselves with hemp ropes. The lack of precautionary safety measures puts the miners’ lives at risk on a daily basis. The fundamental issue that we have noticed has been a lack of training (formalization) to their operations. And it is this lack of training that leads artisanal miners take random approaches to mining. They don’t always have a very structured approach and this leads to safety issues and considerable economic loss. Often, they aren’t processing material well enough, and basically that’s money running through their hands.

The other considerable challenge that the sector faces is that there’s very little technical assistance available to artisanal miners. A lot of well-meaning researchers create baseline studies analyzing fundamental issues but very little technical solutions and assistance actually makes it to the ground; and this is exactly what the sector needs.

In addition to lack of technical support, we also find that there’s inadequate monitoring of the sector. The vast majority of technicians working for government agencies have been trained and have been involved in large and medium scale mining operations, which, to a certain extent, is irrelevant to artisanal mining.  Overall governmental interest in this sector is recent and consequently they have little or no experience in the field.  Government agents are often not trained on how to monitor mining sites properly and how to coach miners to mine more efficiently, and within the confines of the law.

Having been confronted, first hand, by these various issues, Barksanem™ was led to develop several possible solutions including the formalization of artisanal miners, optimization of the physical logistics chain by deploying innovative technologies for the tracking of precious minerals, while participating in the economic and environmental development of micro-collectivities.

When we talk about artisanal mining challenges people often become very reluctant and they start backing away, but it’s important to realize that unless we engage nothing will change. That said, engagement must be respectful of the social economic context. This type of engagement and relevant, adapted pedagogy are key components to a sustainable solution that will help people build better lives.

The Barksanem™ License brings a contextualized solution to the lack of formalization in the ASM sector.

Comment List

  • Danford Kiliba 20 / 01 / 2019 Reply

    Congratulation to you for your good article. I always share this to people who belong to this sector. Sometimes artisans and small scale miners are given grants to develop their business and are left hanging without monitored, given technical solutions from mining to processing without monitoring, given new equipment and technical methods on how to treat ores without been shown where to find them. Example ASM are told to use sodium cyanide, borax or GDA instead of mercury without been shown how and where to get them. ASM are left in darkness, all words are given about mining become stories. ASM need practicals, they need spoon feeding type of trainings, they need full information all in all as you said government officers most of them do not understand well the artisanal and small scale mining activities which becomes very difficult for them to help the sector technically.

  • Kgothatso Nhlengetwa 05 / 02 / 2019 Reply

    Thanks for a great article. It is very true that there is more on-the-ground technical knowledge that needs to be imparted on artisanal and small scale miners. The key of this is the content, methods and monitoring of this.

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