Letters / / 05.13.20

The Sentry Joins 73 NGOs in Calling for Action on Artisanal Mining During the COVID-19 Crisis

By Sasha Lezhnev

Yesterday, The Sentry joined a group of 73 nongovernmental organizations from across the globe in signing on to a joint advocacy statement on the issue of artisanal mining during the COVID-19 crisis. Addressing governments, banks, and companies that source minerals, the letter notes that over 40 million people work in artisanal mining worldwide, many of whom have become particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis due to economic shutdowns and border closures. Many of these mining communities are beginning to be exploited by criminal actors trying to take advantage of these vulnerable groups by engaging in price gouging and increasing insecurity and abuses. These actors put mining communities at even greater risk.

The letter, which can be read in full here, says:

We are calling for immediate and concerted action from governments, financing institutions, international organizations, private sector actors and others in order to achieve the following:

  • A reduction in the potentially devastating impacts of COVID-19 on ASM communities, particularly those that are health and socio-economic related, and acknowledging that women and children may be more acutely affected.
  • Greater consequences for illegal behavior that rewards armed groups and criminal networks and undermines efforts to mainstream or scale supply chain due diligence.

Governments should investigate and, if appropriate, sanction those refining, processing and trading companies and their owners whose illegal activities benefit armed groups or criminal networks.

Private sector actors must continue to improve on the carrying out and reporting on supply chain due diligence, and make every effort not to disengage during the current COVID-19 crisis as access to legal markets is needed more than ever. Companies should not minimize or overlook risks in the face of economic downturn. For example, in the gold sector, they should explicitly refer to the red flags in the 2015 FATF gold typology report to ensure that they are not inadvertently aiding in laundering the proceeds of conflict gold.