Mining contribution to the SDG

The SDGs comprise 17 global goals that are interrelated and targeted to cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. To achieve the SDGs, the UN has established 169 targets. The SDGs apply to all countries worldwide.

All economic activities and their effects can be mapped against the SDGs and their targets. For mining, two such mapping exercises have been conducted on an international level:

  1. In June 2022, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) published the “Sustainable Development Report 2022”(SDR) with an interactive tool that allows visualising the SDR 2022. These dashboards provide a graphic representation of countries’ performance by SDG to identify priorities for action. One main finding of this report is that the world is no longer making progress on the SDGs for the second year in a row. A global plan to finance the SDGs is needed. At mid-point on the way to 2030, policy efforts and commitments supporting the SDGs vary significantly across countries, including among G20 countries.

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  2. In 2020, the Responsible Mining Foundation and CCSI issued a status update. The report “Mining and the SDGs: a 2020 status update” assesses what large-scale mining companies are currently doing to integrate the SDGs into their business strategies and to take proactive measures that will help achieve these goals.

  3. The ICMM has conducted its own “mapping” of the links of the mining sector with the SDGs, but targeted towards mining companies. For each SDG, it presents what companies need to know to minimise impacts and enhance their positive contribution:

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  4. In 2016, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Economic Forum released the report “Mapping Mining to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas”. It seeks to build a common understanding of how mining can contribute to achieving the SDGs. The Atlas maps the links between mining and the SDGs by using examples of good practices in the industry and existing knowledge and resources in sustainable development.

Among the different links between mining and the SDGs, some have received special attention among stakeholders of the mining industry. Pop-up/Expand to find out more about the importance of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), Gender Equality in Mining, and Mining Revenue Governance for sustainable development.


Artisanal and small scale mining and the SDGs

Artisanal and small-scale mining was growing even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing rise in the price of gold. An estimated 1.2 million people in Brazil, Colombia and Peru worked in ASM in 2019, many of them drawn to the industry due to poverty and marginalisation.

According to Delve, collectively, ASM makes up the world’s largest mining workforces, employing an estimated 44.75 million people globally. The 2020 State of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector report examines ASM’s contribution to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG8): “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

ASM is also an important source of mineral supply – in 2018 it accounted for 20% of the global gold supply and 25% of global tin production. However, environmental and social regulation of ASM is often weak, and enforcement even weaker. ASM can therefore be a source of environmental degradation, health hazards and illicit financial flows.

In their report “Mapping artisanal and small-cale mining to the Sustainable Develppment Goals”, Pact and the University of Delaware mapped ASM to each of the SDGs.


Mining and gender equality

Women play an important role in mining: for example in ASM, keeping traditional extraction techniques alive, and in Large-Scale Mining (LSM), working in different operation areas. Equal access to work opportunities and vocational training in the mining sector can be a powerful path towards SDG #5 Gender Equality. But women often experience harassment, discrimination, exposure to environmental pollution, and even gender-based violence in the context of mining activities.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is the United Nations specialized agency dedicated to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Large- and small-scale mining is the main livelihood of millions of men and women in mining countries and mining communities across the world, and this has been the case for centuries. Yet women, despite their significant contribution to the extraction of valuable resources and raw materials, have frequently been excluded from underground mining and many other forms of mining, and continue to face discrimination and barriers to decent work in the mining sector today. In artisanal and small-scale mining in the informal economy, women constitute up to a third of the workforce. Although their work is as hazardous and precarious as that of men, it is usually less valued, and women are generally less protected. In LSM operations, women rarely make up more than 10 per cent of mineworkers, and are most frequently employed in administrative positions. In many countries, women are prohibited by law from working in particular roles and forms of mining, particularly underground mining. In 2021, ILO published “Women in mining Towards gender equality” which intents to address any challenges for women workers in the mining sector.

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The IGF has published a list of 25 policy options in seven governance areas to promote gender equality in mining. Find the report Gender in Mining Governance: Opportunities for policy makers.

Furthermore, in March 2022, IFG launched a collaborative project, “Women and the Mine of the Future”. This initiative pretends to increase understanding of the status quo for women in mining, so stakeholders can anticipate, assess, and address gendered impacts as mining evolves. The first phase of the project is to establish a baseline gender profile for workers in large-scale mining to inform an assessment of how global mining trends will affect women in mining and related supply chains.

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International Women in Mining is a global women’s organisation pursuing gender equality, access to opportunities, and female leadership in mining. It engages with individual members and Women in Mining organisations from over 40 countries. Find out more about the Women in Mining organisations in

Women’s Rights and Mining is a collaborative initiative aiming to secure commitments from key stakeholders in the mining sector to address key gender concerns. Among other ressources, it offers the Encyclopedia on Gender and Mining, published by GIZ.

In its report SDG, gender equality and extractive industries in Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru (Spanish), the Natural Resources Governance Institute has assessed the influence of the extractive industries in five Latin American countries on gender equality, especially through employment, effects on income, and participation in decision-making.

You can find more articles on this topic in the “Responsible Mining” folder in our Library.


Revenue governance

Mining generates important revenues for the countries hosting the resources – resources which can finance public spending for infrastructure and services, and which can also strengthen a country’s fiscal reserves to absorb shocks. But when revenues are not adequately overseen, distributed and spent, they fail to contribute to economic and social development.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implements a “global standard to promote the open and accountable management of oil, gas and mineral resources. The EITI Standard requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction, to how revenues make their way through the government, and how they benefit the public.” By enhancing transparency and accountability, the EITI contributes directly to the SDGs.

Of the MDNP member countries, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have joined the EITI. Among EU Member States, Germany and the Netherlands have also joined. Visit the countries’ profiles and explore their respective implementation status and submitted reports.

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Transparency of revenue payments is a key element for improved revenue governance. The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) hosts the open data platform Resource Projects, which allows you to explore mandatorily disclosed payments to governments for oil, gas and mineral resources in 154 countries, including all MDNP member countries.

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Since 2013, with the amendment of its Accounting and Transparency directives, the EU requires large extractive companies registered in its Member States but producing in third countries to report on the payments (taxes, royalties, bonuses) they make to their governments (country by country reporting).

NRGI has also assessed the quality of resource governance in its Resource Governance Index of 2017. You can find the performance of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru in the Country Fiches tool in the Members’ Area. Find more about this Index and the Country Profile.

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