Delve Exchange Phase 2 Launch Learn more about the exciting next phase of the Delve Exchange program


Liberia is a nation with significant mineral reserves that the country has traditionally relied on, namely iron ore, gold and diamonds, as a major source of revenue. Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activities have been taking place since the turn of the 19th century and date back to the time when former slaves were resettled in Liberia. While artisanal gold mining has grown rapidly in importance, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis, artisanal diamond mining is historically the dominant form of Liberian ASM1. Estimates of those directly employed by the ASM sector vary widely from 30,000 to 100,000 with an estimated 787,500 (and perhaps as many at 1.575 million) men, women and child believed to depend indirectly on the sector for at least part of their income (LEITI 2015, 16).2

Read more in the Liberia Country Profile


Number of People
Working in ASM

In Liberia, many miners operate in the grey zone between legal and illegal status, a space where miners, customary authorities, and government officials are engaged in constant negotiation over the governance of artisanal mining activities. Given the high degree of informality and because the Liberian legal framework does not require the registration of individual workers, but only that of the “miner” equivalent to the mine owner, it is difficult to obtain reliable estimates of artisanal miners. A study conducted in 2010 revealed that ASM operations are a major employer in Liberia although official data indicates that mining employs 1.6% of the population (LISGIS 2011, 34). In 2012, Boakye et al. (2012) suggested that between 30,000 and 45,000 people were engaged in ASM in Liberia. A decade ago, other calculations indicated that estimated 50,000 to 100,000 men and women are directly involved in mining activities (MLME 2009 and PRS 2008 cited by Hinton 2010, 1). According to a report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) citing estimates from the Communities and Small-Scale Mining (CASM), there are 100,000 ASM operators who have near 600,000 dependents (UNECA 2011, 69). Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives’ (LEITI) 2015 scoping study of the mining sector estimates “approximately 100,000 artisanal and small-scale miners and up to 500,000 diggers in Liberia” citing USAID’s Governance Economic and Management Assistance Program as the source (LEITI 2015, 16). High mobility rates in ASM along with participation by foreign nationals makes data collection difficult. As a result, individuals working in the ASM sector are unlikely to be captured in the national censuses.

Read more in the Liberia Country Profile


Data Source:

Production Weight (KG) by Mineral

Data Source:


The data presented in this Version 1 of the Delve platform are from secondary sources and reflect data availability on the ASM sector. All data, countries and minerals are not yet represented. Data will be added on an ongoing basis as the global data gap on ASM continues to be filled. Visualizations created with under a Creative Commons (CC) Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Related Researchers and Organizations