Building Inclusive Economy with Small Scale Miners - Colombia


Challenges faced by artisanal and small-scale miners

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) provides 20-30 percent of all extracted gold in the world. In Colombia, an estimated 60 percent of gold production comes from ASGM. Colombia is a signatory of the Minamata Convention, which aims to protect humans and the environment from mercury contamination. However, there are few controls in place to protect small-scale miners whose safety is often at risk due to mining practices that involve the improper use of mercury. 

While the Colombian government has made many attempts to formalize and regulate the sector, they have had limited success due to lack of oversight capacity, the absence of miner voices in the formal organizing process, and insufficient understanding among public officials about the challenges miners face. Additionally, global buyers and traders that are interested in ethical sourcing frequently struggle to promote economically and environmentally sustainable mining practices over long-standing traditional practices.

Training Colombian miners and community leaders 

To promote safer, healthier, and more equitable participation in regional gold supply chains, MIT D-Lab is training Colombian miners and community leaders to develop sustainable solutions to ASGM-related challenges. MIT D-Lab is leveraging its expertise and longstanding Colombian partnerships to develop a comprehensive program that generates opportunities for co-creating technology and business solutions with multiple stakeholders, including miners themselves.

Creative Capacity Building for Small Scale Miners

The initiative leverages D-Lab's Creative Capacity Building methodology, an inclusive approach to human development that teaches a flexible method for problem-solving, exposing individuals to a framework that can be used to solve everyday challenges in their community as well as concrete, hands-on skills to design technological and business development solutions to those challenges. Funded by Rising Tide Foundation.


Libby McDonald, MIT D-Lab Lecturer and Inclusive Economies Specialist

Ta Corrales Sanchez, MIT D-Lab Program Affiliate

Megha Hegde, MIT D-Lab Research Associate

Molly W. Rubenstein, MIT D-Lab Innovation Ecosystems Manager

Sher Vogel, MIT D-Lab Global Trainings Manager


Libby McDonald, MIT D-Lab Lecturer and Inclusive Markets Specialist