Database of Research & Tools

SRADHA’s Research Papers on Artisanal and Small Mining (ASM) Issues

Published in Delve Database, World Bank


India & ASM

Research by SRADHA Team and Partners by EGPS support:

A Study Report on Preparedness and Awareness Level of ASM communities in the KBK region to respond and cope with COVID-19 Outbreak:


Increased access to relevant data for designing appropriate awareness strategy and materials based on level of education, occupation and baseline awareness level

Situation Analysis of ASM Gold and Gem Stone Subsector communities in KBK region


Increased availability of complete, accurate and reliable data to influence policy, formalizing the sector, improving the livelihoods of poor people, or empower miners.

A study report on Gemstone Value Chain


Increased availability of complete, accurate and reliable value chain data for ASM Gemstone sector

A study report on ASM Gold Value Chain


Increased availability of complete, accurate and reliable value chain data for ASM Gold sector

Gender Impact Assessment of COVID-19 in ASM communities in KBK region of Odisha, India


Increased understanding of the gendered impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the livelihood and health of men and women in ASM communities

Mrinal K. Ghose, A perspective on community and state interests in small-scale mining in India including the role of women, Environment, Development and Sustainability volume 10, Article number: 857 (2008)

Small-scale miners constitute about 90% of all mines and 3000 small-scale mines account for a workforce of 500,000 people. ASM mainly comprises gemstones, gold, coal and low value products. A construction boom is driving the growth of ASM in gravel, clay, sand and building stone sectors. There are significant environmental, technical and social challenges (inappropriate technology, unsafe practices, low efficiency, local pollution, and local conflicts over resource use). Yet the sector is virtually unregulated or supported and recent sustainable development initiatives have focused on large-scale mining (e.g. Sustainable Mining Initiative of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, Confederation of Indian Industries’ Skill Mapping report). The Government is interested to address sector challenges and learning groups and dialogues would play a key role in supporting these emerging efforts.

State of ASM in India & Priorities

Laws and policy
⦁ Indian Mines Act, 1952
⦁ Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (amended 11 July 2016)
⦁ Mineral conservation and development rule, 2017 (amended 27 March 2018)

Barite, bauxite, chromite, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, gemstones, granite, iron ore, limestone, manganese, marble, mica, sandstones, and slate

Government priorities:

⦁ Use satellite and remote sensing technology to map and monitor main ASM areas
⦁ Development of an online National Mineral Information system for investors
⦁ Actively closing ASM coal mining in the east, northeast, and iron ore in south
⦁ Increase mining and quarrying contribution to GDP from 2–5%, much of which might come from ASM, but government favors large-scale and mechanized operations

Government institutions
⦁ Ministry of Mines
⦁ Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM)
⦁ Ministry of Coal
⦁ National Institute of Miners’ Health
⦁ District Mineral Foundation (DMF)


⦁ ASM (not including quarrying of development minerals): >1–1.5 million directly, 3 million indirectly
⦁ ASM (including quarrying): 12 million
⦁ ASM informality estimate: 80% informal
⦁ Gender participation in ASM
⦁ Men: 60%
⦁ Women: 10–40%

(Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and James McQuilken Metallic and nonmetallic deposits in India)
⦁ Relevant Studies and References
Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in India,

S L Chakravorty, iied, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development, October, 2001, No 78

Of all the countries in South Asia, it is India where ASM has been examined in the most detail. While quantitative data on licenses, plot sizes, and workforce dynamics remain elusive, several analyses have emerged over the past two decades which offer insight on the context which drives ASM in the country, its gender dimension, and its cultural importance.

These rich studies cover the full breadth of commodities being mined on an artisanal scale in India, including coal, diamonds, and gold. But, apart from sharing some detail about relevant mining laws, government websites fail to provide complementary quantitative information.


Samal and Mishra, 1998; Lahiri-Dutt, 2004a, 2004b, 2016, 2917; Deb et al., 2018; Chowdhury and Lahiri-Dutt, 2016; Mukhopadhaya and Lahiri-Dutt, 2014; Lahiri-Dutt and Chowdhury, 2018

There are two papers on India’s geology which furthermore provided explanations for how geology influences decisions concerning ASM extraction; an analysis of the economic dimensions of small-scale mining in India; a brief on ASM in Afghanistan; and general pieces which explore the geology, policy environment, and production capacity of ASM in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal

Samal, K. C., and Mishra, S. 1998. Migrant workers in a coal mine region of Orissa. Indian Journal of Labour Economics 41(4): 745-754

Tata Energy Research Institute. 2001

Overview of Mining and Mineral Industry in India. London: MMSD and IIED.

World Bank,. 2011. Poverty head count ratio, India. World Bank national accounts data and OECD National Accounts data files.


Arnab Roy Chowdhury & Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt: The geophagous peasants of Kalahandi: De-peasantisation and artisanal mining of coloured gemstones in India, April 2016, 


Arnab Roy Chowdhury and Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt; The Extractive Industries and Society 3(3) pp. 89-116 (28 pages),

 Rajan, K., & Athiyaman, N. Agrarian distress and gemstone mining in India: The political economy of survival, pp. 89-116 (28 pages)(2004).

Traditional gemstone cutting technology of Kongu region in Tamil Nadu.

Indian Journal of History of Science, 39(4), 385-414. 


These papers discusses the traditional gemstone cutting technology in the backdrop of archaeological and literary evidence and its continuity through the ages to its present status. It analyses the complex process of bead making such as cutting, polishing and boring of the gemstones in Kongu region of Tamilnadu. The processes and skills involved in making such beads and the socio-economic condition of artisans is studied.


Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Arnab Roy Chowdhury, In the Realm of the Diamond King: Myth, Magic, and Modernity in the Diamond Tracts of Central India, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 2018, vol. 108, issue 6, 1620-1634

Abstract: From being “the cradle” of raw diamonds in the world in the eighteenth century, India has turned into an insignificant producer of rough diamonds today. Yet, even now, the indigenous Gonds mine diamonds artisanally in a remote location in central India, largely hidden away from public vision. This article presents an exposition of artisanal diamond mining in central India from the humanistic tradition in geography to illuminate the “realm” of the Gonds, where magic and social relations rule imaginaries of the diamonds in the particular place. It argues that the imaginations of diamonds and their mining by indigenous miners in Panna are shaped through the prism of their particular regional history, myth, geography, and culture. Without faith in the restrictive authority of science, capital, and state, and refusing domestication, the miners dig, smuggle, and spend for the savoir vivre. They remain dynamic and rely on traditional ideas of luck, masculinity, and success. They bind themselves to work and to each other in ways that preclude the possibility of amassing wealth and direct wealth in ways that reaffirm their dependence on the miner’s life. The argument is illustrated through the story of protagonist Ramu, who proudly spends the earnings from his big diamond find. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Panna, Madhya Pradesh State in central India, this article explores the magic of artisanal diamond mining, shows how place shapes such mining, and shows how informal mining shapes the context.


Agrawal, Parul , Richa Devgun, J.S. Bhatnagar A Study on Problems Faced By Exporters of Gems and Jewellery  Industry


Gems and jewellery are part of many cultures and customs around the world. Gems and jewellery have been important part for both aesthetic as well as investment purposes. Gems and jewellery industry has gradually become important  for the Indian  economy due to its contribution in India’s total exports. This sector accounts about 14.98% of the country’s total merchandise exports estimated at US$ 262290.13 million in 2015-16. In last four years export of gems and jewellery decreased by 12% and exports got affected by the rising cost  of raw materials, depressed demand and slowdown of markets. There are many problems faced by the exporters of  gems and  jewellery industry.  This paper discuss the  status of  the exports  of Indian  gems and  jewellery  industry.  Also,  an  attempt  is  made  to  identify  the  problems  faced  by  the  exporters,  by  reviewing  various  literatures and highlighted some suggestions to overcoming these hurdles. 


ArnabRoy ChowdhuryaKuntalaLahiri-Duttb, The geophagous peasants of Kalahandi: De-peasantisation and artisanal mining of coloured gemstones in India, The Extractive Industries and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, July 2016, Pages 703-715


⦁ Artisanal and ⦁ small scale mining of coloured ⦁ gemstones is prevalent in the Kalahandi district of Western Odisha, in India.
⦁ Mainly indigenous Khond people and the so called scheduled caste labours work in these mines.
⦁ Kalahandi is historically characterised by ⦁ drought, failing agriculture, and oppressive feudal social structure.
⦁ Gem mining has increased after the liberalisation of gems and jewellery sector of Indian economy since 1990’s.
⦁ These conditions are leading to De-peasantisation and De-agrarianization in Kalahandi.


This paper presents a political economic appraisal of the de-peasantisation of indigenous communities through an ethnographic exploration of artisanal mining and trade of coloured gemstones in the Kalahandi district of western Odisha (formerly Orissa) in eastern India. It shows that the Khonds, one of the poorest indigenous groups living in this part of India have taken up mining of semi-precious gemstones since the 1990s. This period coincides with the opening of the Indian market of gemstones to the world, alluring this community to often replace their traditional subsistence agriculture with artisanal mining. In addition, a number of other factors have contributed to push more peasants out of agriculture to the informal mining sector for livelihood as it provides them with higher return and quick money. A series of droughts accompanied with deepening agrarian crisis and exploitative caste and class relations have particularly affected the Khond and other tribes of the Kalahandi region. At the same time, the increase in global demands have led to an intensification of informal gemstone mining by the Khonds. However, the indigenous people have not significantly benefitted; although the rate of out-migration has slackened, many are now without land and working in mines as daily wage labourers. This is because the proliferation of mining has also attracted the entry of opportunistic outsiders who collude with the local state, local politicians, caste-leaders and class-elites, police, and bureaucracy to sweep up the profits. This paper shows that the indigenous people continue to remain impoverished as the informal nature of the mining business further pushes them into living precarious lives.


Yashodhan Ghorpade, ‘Girls Don’t Become Craftsmen’: Determinants and Experiences of Child Labour in Gemstone Polishing in Jaipur, July 2016, Journal of Development Studies 53(4):1-18

This paper explores the determinants and valuations of children’s work and schooling choices drawing on primary mixed-methods research in the gemstone polishing industry of Jaipur, India. In addition to economic and demographic factors, the gendered expectations of children’s futures shapes their work and schooling outcomes. For boys, work is additionally driven by the need to acquire training for future employment and wages, and simultaneously complements, and competes with formal schooling. They can work at workshops, acquire higher skills, and can aspire to become skilled craftsmen whereas girls work at home on low-skill activities mainly to supplement household income.


Lucas, Andrew; Bhatt, Nirupa; Singhania, Manoj; Sachdeva, Kashish; Tao Hsu; Padua, Pedro, JAIPUR, INDIA: THE GLOBAL GEM AND JEWELRY POWER OF THE PINK CITY, Gems & Gemology . Winter2016, Vol. 52 Issue 4, p332-367. 36p.


Abstract: In 2015, a field team from GIA visited the Indian city of Jaipur to capture the full scope of its gem and jewelry industry: colored stone cutting, wholesale trading, jewelry design, manufacturing, and retail. The authors documented the current state of the industry from a manufacturing as well as a business perspective. The results substantiated many of the team’s prior assessments but also brought to light recent developments with far-reaching effects. The impact of vertical integration, consolidation, globalization, and jewelry television retail far exceeded expectations. Once known as a colored stone manufacturing center, Jaipur has rapidly climbed the value chain into jewelry manufacturing and retail by successfully incorporating experience and tradition with technology and innovation.
Jagdish Patel, Margaret Robbins, The agate industry and silicosis in Khambhat, India
Agate stones have been shaped and polished into beads and other decorative items for thousands of years in Khambhat, India. Agate is a silicate quartz that produces a fine dust when shaped and polished. The people who shape and polish the stones in workshops in their homes are being sickened with silicosis, as are their families and neighbors. These home-based workshops are unregulated and the workers and their families have no access to occupational health services or workers’ compensation when they become ill. Occupational health activists have tried to find an effective strategy to confront these working conditions and protect the health and livelihood of the agate workers. They have had limited success, and huge challenges remain.

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