Women Mine-rock Waste Collectors in Artisanal and Small-scale Mining in Ecuador: Challenges and Opportunities

Abstract:

We conducted an exploratory study of the nature of women mine-rock waste collectors’ (WWC) activities and analysed their working conditions managing mine waste rock in Ponce Enríquez, Ecuador. A WWC is locally known as janchera, and currently hundreds of women are involved in this activity within artisanal and small-scale gold mining. We combined qualitative and quantitative methods developing interviews, surveys, waste rock processing assessment, and carried on training activity to offer women an alternative livelihood. According to our study, women work individually collecting mine waste rock, but many are involved in associations under a new operational model recycling the collected rock in campsites. The WWC’s associations do not have legal status in mining activity, depending only on the availability of waste rock dumped by small-scale gold mining companies and the will of their owners. The formalisation of WWC is currently difficult to accomplish, suggesting the need for alternative skills and entrepreneurial training, aimed at diversifying livelihood opportunities for women in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM).

Authors: Patricio Colón Velásquez-López, Claudia Páez-Varas, Ximena Benavides-Zúñiga, Francisco Gallegos, Gerald Fallon

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