Minerals and mineral products are the backbone of most industries and some form of mining or quarrying is carried out in nearly every country in the world. It has important economic, environmental, labour and social effects.
Despite considerable efforts in many countries, the rates of death, injury and disease among the world’s mineworkers remain high, and mining remains the most hazardous occupation when the number of people exposed to risk is taken into account.
Taking action on labour challenges in the mining sector
The ILO has been dealing with labour and social problems in the mining industry since its early days, making considerable efforts to improve the work and life of miners - from the adoption of the Hours of Work (Coal Mines) Convention (No. 31)
in 1931 to the Safety and Health in Mines Convention (No. 176)
, which was adopted in 1995.
Whereas work on large-scale, formal mining takes a central role in the ILO’s work, small-scale mining has also become an important issue, given that is has been expanding rapidly and often informally in many developing countries. Work in this subsector is guided by the 1999 Conclusions of the ILO tripartite sectoral meeting on small-scale mining
, which addressed safety and health, child labour, and environmental issues in small-scale mining.
After an exceptionally long period of growing commodity prices, important industry actors are foreseeing a slowing down of growth and a possible reduction in production and employment within the industry. If the trend is confirmed, attention will need to be given to finding sustainable solutions for affected mines and their workers.