Having reduced in significance from the 1970s onwards, the past decade has seen Uganda’s mining industry grow significantly in terms of production, share of GDP, and employment. The sector is dominated by ASM activities, which mainly exploit ores of gold, tin, and tungsten. A recent baseline study that included development minerals such as stone aggregate, marble, sand, and clay for the first time, doubled the estimated number of people working in Uganda’s ASM sector from 200,000 to over 400,000.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda
Photo by Random Institute on Unsplash

Key Minerals Mined by ASM

3T Mineral (Mixed) • Gold

Uganda ASM Employment

Having increased up from an estimated 7,500 miners in 1999 to almost 200,000 in 2008 Uganda’s ASM sector has grown significantly. With employment estimates remaining steady for the past decade, in 2018 a new baseline study quantified the number of people engaged in development minerals for the first time. This doubled the estimate of total ASM employment to over 400,000 and demonstrates the importance of this often-forgotten part of the sector.

Data Source: ILO 1999, MEMD 2009, Hinton 2012, Seccatore 2014, Hilson 2016 (high), (low), UNDP 2018 Vol.1 (middle), EARF 2018 (low), DELVE Estimate (high)

ILO 1999 employment estimate shown as mean value of stated range 5,000-10,000.
2014 estimate from Seccatore (218,000) only applies to employment of artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM).
2016 employment value (225,000) added by Delve to represent median between high and low estimates.
UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) estimate (389,479) only represents employment of ASM in development minerals.
2018 Delve estimate (439,479) is estimate of upper maximum of miners calculated using UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) development minerals estimate (389,479) plus Schipper 2016 estimate of gold miners (50,000).

Uganda ASM Percentage of Labor Force

As a percentage of the countries national labor force (age 15+), ASM provides between 1.5% and almost 2.5% of the population with direct employment. If the ‘multiplier effect’ of the sector in terms of additional job creation is taken into account, this percentage would likely be several times higher.

Data Source: ILO 1999, MEMD 2009, Hinton 2012, Seccatore 2014, Hilson 2016 (high), (low), UNDP 2018 Vol.1 (middle), EARF 2018 (low), DELVE Estimate (high)

Labor force population data taken from World Bank open data portal ( See ASM Employment in Uganda description for notes on ASM employment data.

Uganda ASM Employment by Gender per Mineral (2017)

In Uganda, women are predominantly employed in the mining and processing of development minerals such as salt (73%), stone (70%), and limestone (47%). As an overall measure of the gender employment split for the ASM sector in Uganda, women comprise almost half.

Data Source: UNDP 2018 Vol.1

Percentage calculated by Delve from gender employment data in UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) [Table 9: Estimated Direct Employment and Incomes in ASM Development Minerals Production in Uganda (2017)]. See Box 2 (pg. 29) in UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) for explanation of how estimates were derived
Represented as gender by percentage per mineral for comparability across minerals. See UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) for employment values.

Uganda Mineworkers Income by Gender (2017)

In terms of annual earnings, for certain minerals such as sand, stone aggregate and limestone women and men earn approximately the same. But in most cases in Uganda, and in an overall total comparison for select minerals, women’s annual income is less than their male counterparts.

Data Source: UNDP 2018 Vol.1

Mineworker Income by Gender data from UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1) [Table 9: Estimated Direct Employment and Incomes in ASM Development Minerals Production in Uganda (2017)]. Please note that the mineworkers’ incomes presented here are only those earned directly from mining. Given the high levels of reliance on supplementary incomes from other livelihoods amongst the ASM population in Uganda, actual total income per capita may be much higher. See Section on Livelihoods Diversification for more information [UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1)]

Uganda ASM Employment by Gender and Region (2008)

Regionally in Uganda, the gender split of percentage women and men working in ASM is roughly equal. However, in Western, Central and Karamoja regions the percentage of women in ASM versus men is higher, this could be due to different types of minerals being extracted in these areas and/or socio-cultural reasons.

Data Source: MEMD 2009, EARF 2018

Percentage calculated by Delve from gender employment data in EARF 2018 (Table 3: Formal and estimated informal employment in selected ASM segments in 2008 citing MEMD 2009). See EARF 2018 for employment by gender and region values.
Represented as gender by percentage per region for comparability across regions.

Uganda Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Employment

According to the estimates from the resources and data points in the Delve database, employment in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Uganda has almost doubled over the past decade from 26,000 to 50,000 people.

Data Source: Hinton 2012, Schipper 2016, Schipper 2016, EARF 2018

Hinton 2012 estimate lacks citation or explanation of methodology.
2009 estimate from Schipper 2016 based on 2008 estimate from Hinton 2012 and stated 20-40% increase in ASGM from 2008 to 2009.
Multiple gold rushes since 2008 believed to explain higher estimate of ASGM in 2016. 2016 ASGM estimates differ based on methodology for estimate. See 2016 estimate methodology: EARF 2018 (pg. 25), Schipper 2016 (pg. 20)

Uganda ASM Development Minerals Employment 2008-2017

The number of people working in ASM in every development mineral (except sand) has increased over thr past decade from 2008 to 2017, with most people mining stone aggregate and clay.

Data Source: MEMD 2009, UNDP 2018 Vol.1

ASM employment for select minerals based on two data sources [MEMD 2009, UNDP 2018 (Vol. 1)]


The data presented in this beta site is a sample and should be used for demonstration purposes only. All data, countries and minerals are not yet represented, and will be included in the full launch of the platform coming Summer 2019.

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