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Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM):

As defined by the OECD, “formal or informal mining operations with predominantly simplified forms of exploration, extraction, processing, and transportation. ASM is normally low capital intensive and uses high labour intensive technology. “ASM” can include men and women working on an individual basis as well as those working in family groups, in partnership, or as members of cooperatives or other types of legal associations and enterprises involving hundreds or even thousands of miners.”[48]

Conflict Affected Areas

As defined by the OECD, “Areas identified by the presence of armed conflict, widespread violence, including violence generated by criminal networks, or other risks of serious and widespread harm to people. Armed conflict may take a variety of forms, such as a conflict of international or non- international character, which may involve two or more states, or may consist of wars of liberation, or insurgencies, civil wars.” High risk areas are often characterised by political instability or repression, institutional weakness, insecurity, collapse of civil infrastructure, widespread violence and violations of national or international law.[49]

Conflict Minerals

As defined by RMI, “‘Conflict minerals,’ as defined by U.S. legislation,  currently include the metals tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, which are the derivatives of the minerals cassiterite, columbite-tantalite and wolframite, respectively.” These minerals are sometimes referred to as “3TG.” “Conflict minerals can be extracted at many different locations around the world including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The SEC rules define conflict minerals as 3TG metals, wherever extracted. For example, tin extracted in Canada, Russia or Argentina is considered a conflict mineral by definition. In the SEC rule, “DRC conflict-free” is defined as minerals that were extracted and did not directly or indirectly benefit armed groups in the covered countries. Therefore, tin extracted from Canada is considered “DRC conflict-free” under the definitions of the SEC rule.”[50]


Due Diligence

As defined by the OECD, “Due diligence is an on-going, proactive and reactive process through which companies can identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their actual and potential adverse impacts as an integral part of business decision-making and risk management systems. Due diligence can help companies ensure they observe the principles of international law and comply with domestic laws, including those governing the illicit trade in minerals and United Nations sanctions.”[51]

Large-Scale Mining or Industrial-Scale Mining (LSM):

LSM is usually done by companies with high amounts of capital, technical, and legal support. It is often a highly mechanized process, unlike artisanal mining which is largely reliant on human labor, and a single operation can cover a large area of land. There is not a standardized definition of large-scale or industrial-scale mining. Referring to mining laws of specific countries is useful for country-specific sourcing.

Post-Consumer Recycled

Definition as proposed by the Glossary Project, “Materials such as metals and gemstones recovered from used consumer products for reuse in new products. Post-consumer recycled metals can include used jewelry, dental fillings and crowns, metals recovered from circuit boards and circulated currency. Post-consumer recycled gemstones can include diamonds and colored stones removed from used jewelry or adornment or stones previously used for industrial purposes.”[52]


Definition as proposed by the Glossary Project, “A term applied to metals purchased or used by consumers (post consumer), or are a byproduct of manufacturing (pre-consumer) or finished goods that were never in circulation (pre-consumer) that are reused in the manufacturing of new products. Bullion containing any non-recycled metal or manufacturing byproduct reintroduced back into the same production line are not recycled.”[53]


The OECD describes a transparent due diligence process as including: a public written statement of commitment, a description and example of communications with suppliers regarding due diligence expectations, the name of the individual responsible for due diligence, a description of how the policies are implemented and compliant with national and regional requirements, a risk assessment that can verify information through checks on-the-ground for fraud and irregularities, a description of risk management methods, description of steps taken to monitor the supply chain, and a description of any audits a company has participated in.[54]

Illegal/Informal/Illicit Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

It can be difficult to distinguish between the different types of artisanal and small scale mining. Mining operations that fall outside of a legal framework can span activity that is largely still found acceptable by governments and local communities to activity that is highly illegal and contributing to human rights abuses. There are some instances where legal frameworks around ASGM do not exist. In some cases, it is not financially, legally, or technically feasible to formalize. In these instances, ASGM is often accepted despite not meeting a legal framework. It is important to consider the nuances between illegal, informal, and illicit gold mining.

Illegal ASGM: It can be difficult to determine an ASGM operation as ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’ because there are sectors that operate where legal regulations are not fully aligned, enforced, or feasible to comply with. In countries with no legislation addressing the sectors  practice, it does not make ASGM illegal by default.[56] Considering legal versus illegal ASGM in the light formality, the OECD defines ASM activity as formal when 1) it is consistent with applicable national laws; and 2) it demonstrates good faith efforts to operate within the legal framework and engages in opportunities for formalization. Mining activities cannot be considered legitimate when they “contribute to conflict and serious abuses associated with extraction, transport, or trade of minerals as defined in Annex II of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.”[57]

Informal ASGM: “Although not fully consistent with all applicable laws, in most cases it is not associated with the most severe forms of human rights violations and actors show a genuine demonstrable commitment to move towards being formal.”  Informal mining is the reality for most ASGM operations.[58]

Illicit ASGM: Illicit ASGM is that which contributes to serious abuses associated with the extraction, transport, or trade of minerals. “ASGM that is actively violating human rights, inconsistent with national and international law, and possibly funding organized crime and/or terrorism cannot be condoned, and steps must be taken to halt its extraction and trade.”[59]


As defined by the OECD, “Refers to physical tracking of minerals at all points of the trading chain, from their mine of origin to their point of export.”[55]


[48] OECD (2016), OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: Third Edition, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264252479-en

[49] OECD (2016)

[50] Responsible Minerals Initiative. (2019) “What Are Conflict Minerals?” Responsible Minerals Initiative, http://www.responsiblemineralsinitiative.org/about/faq/general-questions/what-are-conflict-minerals/.

[51] OECD (2016)

[52]Jewelry Glossary Project. (2019). Jewelry Glossary Project, https://jewelryglossaryproject.com. Accessed September 6, 2019.

[53]Jewelry Glossary Project. (2019)

[54]OECD. “Due Diligence Guidance towards Conflict-Free Mineral Supply Chains.” OECD, https://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/EasytoUseGuide_English.pdf.

[55]OECD. “Due Diligence Guidance towards Conflict-Free Mineral Supply Chains.”

[56]  Hunter, M., Smith, A., Levin-McNally, E., Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, & GIZ. (2017)

[57] FAQs https://mneguidelines.oecd.org/FAQ_Sourcing-Gold-from-ASM-Miners.pdf

[58] Hunter, M., Smith, A., Levin-McNally, E., Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, & GIZ. (2017)

[59] Hunter, M., Smith, A., Levin-McNally, E., Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, & GIZ. (2017)


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