A perspective on community and state interests in small-scale mining in India including the role of women

Research paper by Mrinal K. Ghose

Indexed on: 21 Mar '07Published on: 21 Mar '07Published in: Environment, Development and Sustainability


To achieve 8% growth of the Indian economy, the industrial sector must grow at 10% rate. The vision statements of various core sectors of the country show that the mining sector will have to expand greatly. India is among the top ten mineral producing nations in the world and the Indian mining industry indicates almost the full range of extractive mineral products. Small-scale mining is quite prevalent in India. Such mines constitute about 90% of total number of mines, 42% of the total non-fuel minerals and metals, 5% of the fuel minerals. Some 3,000 small-scale mines account for a work force of about 0.5 million people. Yet this sector is a neglected sector in Indian economy and still considered as an unorganized sector. This article examines the community and state interests in small-scale mining and the contribution of small-scale mines to employment, national mineral production, practices, and Indian policy on small-scale mining. It identifies drawbacks in the existing Government policy and discusses a possible role for the Government to upgrade the sector. This paper highlights the impacts of mining on women community, the socioeconomic characteristics of women as miners and on the productive roles that women play in mining. It also discusses how the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods, poverty alleviation, indigenous peoples right and gender equity in artesianal and small-scale mining be more effective when these communities are disadvantaged or neglected by government policies. The respective roles of the indigenous people and migrant workers in the social organization of ASM sectors in different parts of the country are discussed.