Those who work in artisanal mining were already amongst some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable before the COVID pandemic, and are even more so now. Therefore, NGOs are calling for the international community’s attention to this crisis.

Over 70 NGOs and civil society organisations have released a call to action warning of the extreme economic impacts COVID 19 is having on ASM communities, including in the 3Ts in the Great Lakes region; and the urgent need for governments, financing institutions, international organisations, private sector actors and others to support artisanal mining communities at this time of crisis. This is also in direct response and support of the OECD and RMI calls outlining the urgent funding need for on-the-ground, OECD-aligned programmes.

NGOs further warn that miners are at heightened risks due to the crisis, which aligns with ITSCI’s concerns for ASM communities at this time.  We are also seeing a worrying trend in the 3T mineral trade in central Africa, where the overall number of serious incidents relating to OECD Annex II risks on human rights, security, corruption and fraud has risen in recent months. Since March 2020 our on-the-ground teams have reported 22 incidents of serious abuses in line with Annex II risks.  In April, seven incidents were reported related to public or private security forces illegally controlling, influencing, participating in or taxing mineral trade.  Moreover, in some areas, we have reported cases of child labour which is in some areas likely due to school closures.

Over the last decade, ITSCI and its partners have made hard-won gains to build and improve responsible mineral supply chains and address on-the-ground risks. We have worked hard with ASM communities, business, governments and international stakeholders to ensure responsible business meeting international standards.  As highlighted in our appeal for emergency funding, we have cut costs substantially but cannot operate at budgets matching the drop in mining output. 

By acting urgently and together, in line with the CSO, OECD and RMI calls to action, we can address the impacts of COVID on 3T ASM communities in central Africa. Therefore, we are calling on all metal users and stakeholders to provide financial support during this unprecedented crisis, and aid us in supporting ASM communities at this critical time.

Miners panning at Nyakabingo, Rwanda