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Gold never goes out of fashion and remains a prized asset, with an estimated $3 trillion held in physical stores by investors and banks, and a trading volume of $400 billion. Gold prices have continued to test record highs in recent months, with forecasts suggesting this will be achieved by the end of this year. So yes, gold remains a valuable liquid asset and a strong driver of global economies. In this context, GoldFinX, a Singapore-based company, has been transforming the often overlooked Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector for the past four years. ASGM has emerged as a significant source of global gold production, accounting for 20% of the gold supply worldwide while accounting for 90% of the workforce. Millions of men, women, and children are involved in ASGM, representing a substantial portion of the 40.5 million engaged in artisanal and small-scale mining. Over the past two decades, this number has nearly tripled, highlighting the sector’s growth and importance.
The Human Toll
But all this comes at a staggering human cost. Despite offering employment opportunities in rural communities, most workers operate in “informal” mines that disregard industry standards and safety regulations. Without security or legal protection, these individuals face daily health risks, including severe injuries and even death.
Toxic materials like mercury and cyanide are commonly used as inexpensive alternatives to proper gold processing methods. Unfortunately, this practice poses a significant global ecological threat. The widespread use of these substances results in the destruction of local environments and irreversible water and air pollution on a global scale. Shockingly, the ASGM sector is accountable for nearly 40% of the world’s human-induced mercury emissions. Urgent action is needed to address these devastating impacts on both human lives and the environment.
Market Segment Inefficiencies
Small-scale miners face significant challenges in increasing their production capabilities. They often rely on rudimentary, low-quality tools and employ dangerous methods, severely limiting their potential output. Additionally, they struggle to access fair and easy credit, hindering their ability to expand production. Without state-of-the-art equipment, their aspirations for increased efficiency and effectiveness remain unattainable.