Performing traceability: Unpacking the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) trade circuit in Peru
Villanueva, A.; Vila, B. (2023). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0743016723001547
To what extent can traceability requirements improve the transparency in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM)? This article addresses the crucial but rarely explored problem of gold traceability, and what happens when gold moves from mine to market. Building on transparency discussions that scrutinize the power dynamics behind information demands, we argue that the push for origin information of minerals can create an ideal scenario for performative governance (Ding, 2020) in which actors feign traceability to continue participating in the gold value chain. To present evidence of these dynamics, we outline how gold circulates in two ASGM constellations in Peru: Arequipa (in the Andes) and Madre de Dios (in the Amazon). We find that Northern market concerns regarding the legal origin of gold has created contradictions in Peru’s formalization regulatory framework. To bypass these barriers, actors along the value chain will benefit from the assistance of “logistical entrepreneurs” (Schouten et al., 2019) to secure gold production and trade. We conclude that, rather than promoting meaningful change towards a more responsible and transparent gold value chain, traceability requirements can promote more opaque practices and introduce more complexity into an already highly informal sector such as ASGM.