The Covid-19 pandemic has hit small-scale mining hard, reduced incomes, exposed miners to greater risks and even increased the use of child labor, according to a new report released on Tuesday.
The report, released by Human Rights Watch, states that in some parts of Africa and other continents, “mining activity has been reduced or stopped due to closures and blocked trade routes. Where mining has been suspended, miners and their families have lost their income.
‘Where mining has continued, affected workers and communities have been exposed to increased risks to their human rights. In some small-scale mining areas, child labor has risen. ”
Referring to examples of the impact of the coronavirus, Human Rights Watch says that children have worked in larger numbers at craft gold and diamond mining sites in the Central African Republic and in craft gold mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In addition, there has also been an increase in illegal mining and trade in gold and diamonds in several countries, including Guinea and Ghana, in part due to reduced government monitoring and restrictions on the legal movement of products.
“As a result, mining communities are at greater risk of exploitation, abuse and environmental damage by illegal mining operators …” the report continues.
“In East and Central Africa, while many trading houses closed, illegal trade networks flourished. Traders traveled to the Congo and Uganda to export gold from there, and it was reported that illegal gold exports from the DRC through Uganda to the gold trading hubs of Dubai and Istanbul would continue.
“This illegal trade could exacerbate the economic exploitation of local workers, money laundering and violence in countries under conflict, such as Congo.”