Unlocking Finance For Artisanal And Small-Scale Gold Mining: A Frontier Investment Sector


Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) provides the minerals for a growing global economy, including for the green infrastructure required for de-carbonization and electrification. Employing over 40 million people and supporting a further 250 million globally, it is the chief source of income for many rural communities. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is a significant part of the ASM sector and accounts for approximately 20% of global gold supply. To date, ASGM has been left largely on the margins of the formal economy with little access to formal finance—that is, finance that falls within the purview of international or national law.

This report, produced by TDI Sustainability at the request planetGOLD, seeks to assist ASGM programs in accessing finance by better understanding the perspective of investors and the implications of ASGM’s status as a frontier investment sector. To assist in bridging the perspectives of the ASGM and finance worlds, key business and investment concepts are explored, including:

  • The supply and demand of finance, to understand the needs and perspectives of the supply side, investors, and of the demand side, ASGM businesses seeking investment;
  • The curve of adoption, which can be used to identify and understand investor archetypes, to ascertain how likely individual investors (regardless of the type of institution they work for) are to engage with ASGM; and,
  • The investment continuum, which describes different sources of finance and their appropriateness for ASGM investment as the sector matures.

Through this report, we strive to move away from the continuing narrative of “barriers to finance” to focus on “action” and “access”, concluding with actionable recommendations to support ASGM projects in better targeting and securing the most appropriate investment and funding.

We draw on a range of expert perspectives, primary research and our experiences building The Impact Facility for Sustainable Mining Communities

Authors: Sarah Caven, Assheton Carter, Ed Bowie

About planetGOLD

Supported by the Global Environment Facility and led by the United Nations Environment Programme, planetGOLD works in partnership with governments, the private sector, and ASGM communities in nine countries to significantly improve the production practices and work environment of artisanal and small-scale miners. By working to close the financing gap, supporting formalization, raising awareness, and connecting mining communities with mercury-free technology and formal markets, the programme aims to demonstrate a pathway to cleaner and more efficient small-scale gold mining practices that benefit everyone, from mine to market.

The planetGOLD programme is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and Conservation International.