Title: The myth of alternative livelihoods: artisanal mining, gold and poverty

Authors: Shefa Siegel, Marcello M. Veiga

Addresses: GEF/UNDP/UNIDO Global Mercury Project, Norman B. Keevil, Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada. ' GEF/UNDP/UNIDO Global Mercury Project, Norman B. Keevil, Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, V6T 1Z4, BC Canada

Abstract: This paper aims to resolve a fundamental policy question: Should international institutions concerned with the environmental hazards produced by artisanal and small-scale gold mining attempt to direct miners into alternative livelihoods, or promote mining as a means of poverty alleviation? It is argued here that gold rushes are forces of economic history undeterred by policy, and that small-scale mining activities are expanding throughout the world because of gold|s firmly rooted market value. Gold mining presents a unique opportunity for the world|s poor, generating 3-5 times the income of other livelihoods, and international policy must be pragmatic about this reality.

Keywords: ASM; small-scale mining; gold mining; artisanal mining; environment; environmental pollution; human health; health risks; Sudan; sustainable livelihoods; alternative livelihoods; poverty alleviation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEP.2010.033236

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2010 Vol.41 No.3/4, pp.272 - 288

Published online: 14 May 2010 *

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