World agencies step in as pandemic poverty hits artisanal miners – by Helen Reid (Reuters Africa – June 26, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG, June 26 (Reuters) – From a $15 million World Bank fund to an experimental gold-buying project in Burkina Faso, development agencies are delivering financial aid to subsistence miners the COVID-19 pandemic has impoverished.

World market prices of gold – viewed by investors as a safe store of value in uncertain times – have surged to levels last seen in 2012, and are up 16% this year.

But millions of subsistence workers, who typically use rudimentary techniques at unregulated mines, have received none of the benefits as pandemic disruption to supply lines has shrunk their already sporadic earnings.

The World Bank is creating a dedicated emergency relief fund for the estimated 40 million artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) worldwide, three sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A World Bank spokeswoman confirmed the fund, which was yet to be officially launched. She said the fund would “provide short-term assistance to artisanal mining communities to better cope with COVID-19 impacts”.

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