What does 1500$ gold mean to the Artisanal Gold Mining Sector?

What happens to the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining sector (ASGM) when gold moves from 1200$ to 1500$ in less than a year? That is a 20% increase.

Its nature (largely unregulated subsistence labour) means it can respond quickly relative to the large scale industrial gold mining sector. Many short term needs are met overnight and that ripples down.

That could mean 20% more people could be employed in ASGM, which would mean 2 million more miners globally if the 10 million miners in 80 countries estimate is used as a basis. 10 million miners is the lowest estimate in the literature today.

Or it could mean the existing 10 million people have 20% more free cash. Either way it is a 4 to 5 billion USD windfall to the economy of the ASGM sector. That is about 8 million new Chinese motorcycles. Or its a mix of new motorcycles, more people, and more community wealth. It is about 3% of the global development assistance budget from all countries for all purposes.

Now obviously if the sector were more professionalized, we could really see some great stuff happening. It could build schools and hospitals and deliver education and health to some of the most needy places in the world. And this windfall could easily finance sector wide mercury free processing and eliminate the global mercury pollution problem. These are the root of our mission to professionalize the sector. Its a great development opportunity for some of the world's greatest needs.

Burkina Faso, Mongolia, Philippines, Suriname, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Gabon, Mozambique, Tanzania, Cambodia, Laos, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Switzerland.

These are the countries from which the Artisanal Gold Council has direct information and field experience and from where our perspectives on the ASGM sector are drawn.

Kevin Telmer, Exec. Dir. AGC


  1. Yes, it would be nice if higher gold commodity prices flowed directly to the existing artisanal miners. My bet is that price increases are now being taken disproportionately by the gold buying middlemen and refineries.
    Or increased gold prices could mean - a new gold rush - or a stampede of millions of low income fortune seekers start heading into places like the Amazon Rain Forest to do illegal gold mining and use tons more toxic mercury in their gold processing and land degradation activities in this important ecosystems. What solutions are now being developed to mitigate this happening that could scale and that are sustainable?


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The Artisanal Gold Council is a registered non-profit organization that improves the environmental and economic sustainability of artisanal and small scale gold mining communities.

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