As per conservative estimates, in 2017 around 40 million miners worldwide worked directly in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining sector (ASM).
Projekt-Consult GmbH has been pursuing a holistic approach to implementing ASM projects for more than 30 years. Integral solutions are always developed in close collaboration with ASM miners, mine owners, cooperatives, civil society organizations, mining authorities, regional initiatives, and international development agencies according to their specific needs. Besides consulting on all geo-technical aspects of ASM, Projekt-Consult analyzes legal and regulatory frameworks, assesses the environmental and socio-economic impacts, supports access to finance and designs formalization strategies for demarginalizing and transferring the ASM sector into an engine for local development.
Due to its worldwide unique ASM sector experience and its global network of highly qualified experts and partners, Projekt-Consult elaborates realistic measures, which are tailored to the local conditions and have a sustainable impact on ASM operations and communities on the ground. The guiding principle is to create win-win situations by combining economic benefits with positive environmental and social effects.
In order to face the challenges and dynamics of the ASM sector, a sound and up-to-date knowledge base containing technical, environmental and socio-economic data is crucial. It forms the basis for selective, demand-responsive assistance measures and strategies, including formalization approaches. Projekt-Consult acquires first-hand information through detailed field mappings and assessments, on-site interviews, and discussions with the key stakeholders. According to the client’s needs, spatially referenced geo-data and ASM knowledge databases are set up and maintained.
Mineral resources can be exploited in various ways depending on the geological features of the deposit. In order to improve the miners’ working conditions while increasing production, Projekt-Consult introduces responsible mining practices as well as essential OHS and environmental standards. Projekt-Consult provides geo-technical assistance and hands-on training to ASM operations, cooperatives, and individual miners regarding systematic mine site planning, more efficient extraction methods, and engineering for responsible mining operations including preventive mine safety features.
Projekt-Consult analyzes and optimizes each processing step to maximize the efficiency of the processing and, thus, the quantity of the ore concentrate obtained, while mitigating the negative effects for the miners’ health and the environment. Miners are trained on the job using advanced and efficient processing technologies, e.g. amalgamation retorts, which require no or only a small fraction of chemical reagents, consume less water, and are more energy efficient. Pragmatic tailings and mining waste management strategies are developed considering the miners’ technical capacity and environmental conditions.
Projekt-Consult sensitizes ASM miners and communities to environmental protection and makes them aware of the hazardous short to long-term consequences of mercury, cyanide, dissolved heavy metals, and siltation to the environment in the vicinity and downstream. For decades, Projekt-Consult has been involved in comprehensive programs on mercury reduction in mining; a challenge that is again appearing prominently on the international agenda through the Minamata convention. In cooperation with ASM communities, environmental and civil society organizations, and public institutions, Projekt-Consult supports miners in elaborating and implementing environmental impact assessments and environment management plans. Projekt-Consult’s services also include the introduction of more environmentally friendly or alternative processing techniques, as well as the development of strategies for the adequate storage of mining waste and processing residues.
Projekt-Consult balances each stakeholder’s interest in order to mediate conflicts between ASM, large-scale mining operations and local or indigenous communities. The basic principles of human rights and international labor standards are introduced to miners and their families with the aim of raising livelihood quality, and to reduce the worst forms of child labor and the discrimination of women in mining. The guiding principle is to create sustainable solutions, which can be accepted by all involved stakeholders in the long run. Projekt-Consult advises structural adjustment in mining regions, in order to maximize the positive impact of ASM as local engine for sustainable rural development.
Although essential in terms of poverty alleviation and rural development, ASM is rarely compliant with national and international standards. Projekt-Consult supports governments and development agencies in formalizing ASM and developing long-term strategies for integrating this sector in the country’s overarching development goals. Besides an in-depth technical and socio-economic assessment of all ASM related activities, the current mining legislation and associated regulations are duly analyzed, and appropriate recommendations or adjustments are proposed always considering the specific characteristics of the country’s ASM sector.
Certification and due diligence
Due diligence in order to ensure responsible mineral supply chains has become a mainstream topic in recent years. Projekt-Consult was involved in the development of innovative initiatives such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and supports governments, development agencies, and supra-regional organizations in auditing and certifying ASM sites and developing transparent value chains from mine to market. Moreover, Projekt-Consult assists key stakeholders in the value chain’s upstream sector in guaranteeing conflict-free mineral products, transparency and traceability, humane working conditions, and basic environmental standards. With the assistance of Projekt-Consult, our clients are able to meet the requirements of the different national and regional certification mechanisms (ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism, Better Gold Initiative for ASM, FairMined, Certified Trading Chains, ITRI Tin Supply Chain Initiative, etc.) that are already in place, as well as the new European regulation on conflict minerals that will come into effect soon.