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Informality in mineral resource management in Asia: Raising questions relating to community economies and sustainable development

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Informal mining activities provide livelihoods for millions of poor in mineral-rich developing countries. Yet, they continue to remain one of the least understood areas in mineral resource management. While its poverty reduction potential is acknowledged, the heterogeneous forms of mining that come under its purview are not well discussed. This article aims to draw attention to the politics of definition by briefly introducing the reader to the nomenclature currently used to describe such mining activities. Then the article examines the nature of informality that justifies the name, and then illustrates the claim by documenting a range of informal mining practices in India with cited examples from other Asian countries. It illustrates the variations in social-economic, technical and legal characteristics, by putting such mining in a community and participatory framework. Finally, the article discusses ways to move towards sustainable development with community participation in mineral-rich areas of developing countries.
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