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Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining

Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining

Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining

Collaborating with Swiss Gold Refiners, Earthworm Foundation aims to improve the livelihoods and well-being of artisans in Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining, eliminate mercury use, and enhance supply chain transparency.


Over the past two decades, Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining has grown substantially in many developing nations. According to estimates from international organisations such as the World Bank, around 15 to 20 million people primarily depend on ASM for their livelihoods. It is also believed that ASM contributes up to 20% of newly mined gold worldwide.

Conscious of the importance of the small-scale mining (ASM) economy for the livelihoods of many communities worldwide, Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining often presents social and environmental challenges and a lack of transparency. Artisanal small-scale (ASM) Gold mining is perceived as risky, and the industry has largely looked to avoid it. Nonetheless, gold will likely be present in many supply chains through recycling.

The real issues include environmental (mercury, deforestation), social (human rights), and lack of transparency (informality, little traceability).

Recent studies from academic and industrial groups have pointed to the need for supply chain partnership approaches between artisanal Small-Scale (ASM) Gold Mining and ore processing plants as an economical and practical pathway to improving ASM practices. Processing plants are a demonstrated and scalable way—in the appropriate geographies (i.e., for mineral gold, not alluvial gold)—to reach the goals of zero mercury and transparent supply chains.

Collaborative actions for sustainable artisanal small-scale gold mining

Earthworm Foundation has over 25 years of experience working with supply chains and across various raw materials. This expertise can be leveraged to drive change in the gold sector and incorporate artificial small-scale (ASM) gold mining into responsible value chains.

With this objective, Earthworm Foundation has been working with three main Swiss Gold Refiners, PX Precinox, Metalor, and Argor-Heraeus, to tackle the difficult issue by taking concrete action to:

1) Develop and promote the ASM processing plant in relevant geographies
2) Dive deeper into the ASM situation through field visits to better understand what potential actions may be relevant to generate positive impacts.

LEADING TO IMPACT: Philippe Chave of PX Precinox

“Trust and solutions are built together, and it takes time.”

In this Leading to Impact episode, PX Group Co-CEO Philippe Chave shares with Bastien Sachet how his values help PX Precinox SA and its efforts towards improving the conditions of Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) across their supply chains. Learn more about his views on the value of partnerships and more.

Project objectives

To effectively integrate Artisanal Small-Scale (ASM) Gold Mining into a responsible global value chain.

Develop clear guidelines and recommendations to support responsible Artisanal Small-Scale (ASM) Gold Mining practices

Define new incentive mechanisms for Artisanal Small-Scale (ASM) Gold Mining

What is the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM) project?


  • To create model principles for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) gold supply chain (at ASM and processing plant level)
  • To develop Swiss Gold Refiner 3-year roadmap (Impact Targets, Operational roadmap, future governance, etc.)
  • To assess the current situation (at the time of project start)
  • To understand the current artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) gold situation in key countries (supply chain organisation, country/political context vis a vis ASM, key local players, etc.)
  • To conduct field visits to Processing Plants and Desktop studies

Align to transform

  • Based on case studies and field visits, Earthworm has developed the Responsible ASM Gold Sourcing Guidelines, a self-assessment tool for processing plants, and technical guidelines on due diligence and traceability.
  • Earthworm aims to work with the refiners on a 3-year roadmap that will include action plans for processing plants to improve integration of ASM in the gold value chain.


  • A stakeholder consultation workshop was conducted with civil society and other key stakeholders.
  • The Responsible small-scale mining (ASM) Gold Sourcing guidelines and related tools will be publicly available in Q3 2024 to maximise impact.

Countries of Engagement

  • Processing Plants field visits conducted: Peru, Nicaragua
  • Desktop studies: Ecuador, Brazil, Indonesia, Guinea and Cameroon.

Expected benefits

Our project aims to publish comprehensive Responsible ASM Gold Sourcing guidelines and related tools, endorsed by key players in the Gold Value Chain. These resources will provide actionable insights and best practices to foster sustainable and transparent ASM operations globally.

Got a question? Get in touch.

For inquiries, contact Marika Korent at or Sandra Romero at