Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) are important sources of income for impoverished rural populations in many developing countries. Poor labor and environmental conditions often prevail because governments lack the capacity and sometimes the will to responsibly control ASM. At the other end of the supply chain, corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies increasingly require jeweler’s suppliers to control social and environmental aspects of mining. In a sense, jewelry and mining corporations are voluntarily taking the issue of governance into their own hands. A combination of CSR and revenue-centric development strategies has the potential to further marginalize poor, rural populations who depend on ASM. It is therefore important to examine how ASM has been affected by global social responsibility trends, why it is often left out and to find ways that ASM populations can be successfully integrated into planning for sustainable development and socially responsible business. Gemstones and gold are economically the most important global commodities for ASM populations and precious colored gemstones are rarely mined on a large-scale. Ethnographic research was undertaken to explore how global social responsibility strategies interact with local realities of ASM colored gemstone and gold production. Burma, Madagascar and Colombia each present cases with clear interaction between global CSR trends and ASM, and combined provide a range of public policies with regards to rural populations who depend on ASM. Informal interviews and industry observations were conducted with a range of stakeholders in the global precious mineral trade and mineral development sector. Semi-structured interviews were recorded with key informants for each case study and these were triangulated with internal documents, press releases and articles. Burma illustrates a case where global CSR is attempting to halt ASM because of poor governance and human rights violations. Madagascar illustrates a case where governance and education are improving but widespread poverty and a legacy of corruption has so far prevented the direct integration of ASM into CSR strategies. In the case of Colombia, one region has successfully connected ASM with the global CSR dialogue by designing and implementing a certification program to effectively valorize and govern ASM production. Major findings reveal that (1) CSR in the mineral sector is a contentious and political issue with a range of stakeholder viewpoints; (2) a bottom-up, process-oriented approach can successfully drive economic and social improvement in ASM commodity chains; and (3) community empowerment, education, youth leadership and social networking appear to be key factors for driving production of ASM minerals that can comply with social and environmental standards.
DeLeon, Sarah Wade Dickinson, "Jewels of Responsibility from Mines to Markets:" (2008). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 65.