Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) refers to mining activities that are often labor-intensive and have low levels of mechanization. An estimated 60-100 million people all over the world are involved in ASM activities and ASM can be either legal or illegal, formal or informal. ASM sites range from areas that involve two or three part-time miners to as many as tens of thousands of miners at a site working shifts to produce as much ore as possible.

Artisanal and Small Scale (ASM) often comes into conflict with large scale mining (LSM). Often ASM activity will have existed in an area before the presence of an LSM project, and the granting of an LSM mining license can make ASM illegal and/or marginalized. The issues around ASM are many, including co-existence with LSM, formalization, governance, social and environmental management, safety, protection of communities’ and miners’ rights and alternative livelihoods.