Urban mining versus Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM): An interrogation of their contribution to sustainable livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa

Thandazile Moyo, Takunda Y. Chitaka, Aysha Lotter, Catherina J. Schenck, Jochen Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) are activities that are increasingly finding uptake as a means of providing livelihoods in the face of high unemployment, especially in the developing world. Informal e-waste recycling is typically practiced by individuals or groups of people who collect end-of-use and end-of-life electronic and electrical equipment which they can repair or refurbish and resell as well as break down to sell valuable components. E-waste recycling is a form of urban mining; thus, the intention of the paper is to draw parallels between this form of mining and artisanal gold mining. Artisanal miners extract virgin minerals while ‘urban miners’ reclaim metals from various waste streams. Both sectors are characterized by high levels of informality and their activities are largely practiced as a means of livelihood. We used the sustainable livelihoods framework (SLF) as a tool to draw this comparison based on available literature on the two sectors, complemented by anecdotal field data. It was found that the livelihood capitals are similar between the two sectors and that there are strong similarities in the vulnerability contexts, with a notable difference being that informal ASM, which has a more significant interaction with the natural environment, places higher demands on natural and physical capital such as land and water pollution and limited access to transport. Recommendations are made on how to strengthen the different capitals of sustainable livelihoods in the hope that these will inform policy decisions on informal sector activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101173
JournalExtractive Industries and Society
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Economic Geology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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