What is ASM in Rajasthan, India? The definition of ASM is not clear in the context of Rajasthan. There are no clearly defined artisanal and small-scale mines in India.The only broad classification of mining activities in India is that of ‘minor’ and ‘major’ minerals.

Most of the mining of minor minerals, which includes all construction related minerals such as stones, are performed in an unorganized way usually at small-scales of operation, whereas the minerals used for other industrial purposes fall into the category of ‘major’ minerals. However, it is not necessarily correct that all major minerals can not be mined at small-scales. Though generally major minerals are mined at large scale but often these minerals trespass each others’ mining leases or territories. Similarly, at times minor minerals are extracted at large scales of operation. Also, the term ‘scale’ tends to indicate only production amounts, and leave out the important question of valuation of output, making the situation more complicated.

In Rajasthan state of India, where agriculture is generally poor, the mining of many major minerals like quartz, feldspar, mica, (semi) precious stones, limestone and gypsum (which are essentially major minerals) are carried out generally at a small-scale in an unorganized manner. Small leases holders, mainly with the help of manual labourers produce small quantities meant for local traders to purchase and trade with. The only mechanization seen in these mines is some compressors – jackhammers and earthmoving machines are usually rented as and when required. On the other hand minor minerals like marble, granite which have gained a lot of importance due to global demand and high profitability are done at highest possible mechanization in many mines of the state (e.g. the marble mines of R.K. Marble comprise the worlds largest marble producing mines with all the machines and is definitely not a small-scale mine). So the need of the time is to define and distinguish small-scale and large scale mines in the state, for proper and systematic approaches for studies like this. It is in fact very difficult to ascertain whether a mine is a small-scale or not. Two adjacent mines for same minerals might be working at different levels of operation. Especially in the states like Rajasthan where diverse variety of minerals are available and the area of study is too big the things become even more complicated. It would be good to consider the mines with 10 or less manual works under the category of small-scale mining. This will comprise mainly the mines of following minerals:

  • Slate/quartzite/phyllite mines for construction purposes 
  • Marble/limestone/granite mines at small-scale 
  • Sandstone mines 
  • Quartz/feldspar/mica mining at small-scale 
  • Quartzite mines for masonry work 
  • Gemstone mining (though major minerals but, there is no mines for these being operated at large scale in the state)
(contributed by Mr. Gagan Goyal)
Dialogue across Boundaries2008Kuntala Lahiri-DuttIndiameeting reportmeeting, NGO, academia, activists
Managing the Social and Environmental Consequences of Coal mining in India2007The Indian School of Mines University in association with University of New South Wales and The AustIndia, AustraliaConference Announcementcoal mining
Report First National Level Consultative Meeting on ASM2007Kuntala Lahiri-DuttIndiareportconsultation