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25 March 2022
Webinar: Artisanal & Small-scale Mining - A sustainable means of livelihood or a poverty trap?
The next DSI/NRF/CSIR Chair in Waste and Society webinar is titled 'Artisanal & Small-scale Mining: A sustainable means of livelihood or a poverty trap?'.


Presenter: Thandazile Moyo
Host: Takunda Chitaka
Date: Thursday, 31 March
Time: 12h00
Platform: Zoom



Thandazile Moyo is a chemical engineer with a passion for research to aid development and the use of focused problem-solving tools in different minerals and secondary metals development contexts. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town. Her current research focuses on sustainable processes to recover metals from primary and secondary resources.

Her work looks at metal recovery from electronic waste as well as gold recovery in artisanal and small-scale mining, among other minerals and metals resources. She researches these processes through the lens of small-medium scale operations and also explores the socio-economic factors that influence the development of these sectors. In that regard, her laboratory-based technical research is complimented by field research. Thandazile’s goal is to harness science and technology to develop sustainable metal processing from primary and secondary resources, especially in a developing economies context.


Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM) is a collective term referring to the low-tech, labour-intensive, mineral extraction and processing. ASM is a means of livelihood for over 44 million people in the world, with Sub-Saharan Africa, hosting over 13 million artisanal miners, and trends indicate that these numbers are growing. Operations in the sector are largely informal, and actors are largely drawn to ASM by a lack of alternative sources of employment or livelihoods, as well as by the low barriers to entry common in the practice.  Informal artisanal miners typically face harsh working conditions, doing work that requires them to be physically fit and strong, and working long hours for marginal gains in relation to the effort put in and the risks taken. Although sometimes lauded as a contributor to poverty alleviation, ASM is also recognised to be a poverty trap i.e. an economic system from which impoverished people find it difficult to escape. Beyond its link to poverty alleviation or exacerbation, ASM’s contributions, be it positively or negatively, cut across all the 17 SDGs with 13 of the 17 goals having their targets impacted at levels above 50%.

This webinar introduces you to ASM using gold mining as a point of reference and highlights the contributions of the sector to global value chains while also speaking to its challenges in broad categories i.e. social, environmental, economic, and safety and health. The session will wrap up by applying the sustainable livelihoods framework to evaluate the contributions of ASM to sustainable livelihoods.