In sub-Saharan Africa, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has caused a range of environmental, social and economic problems. Most of the donor support pledged to improve conditions in the sector to date, however, has failed to facilitate marked improvements, in large part because emphasis has been placed on technical interventions; at the same time, impoverished miners’ needs and concerns have been seriously overlooked. It is against this background that this paper critically examines the underpinnings and potential of “Fair Trade gold” as a solution to many of the problems plaguing the ASM sector and a mechanism for alleviating the hardships of its operators. Unlike the majority of ASM-support support measures implemented in the past, “Fair Trade gold” is entrenched in the discourse of “partnership” and “participation”. To ensure its effectiveness initiatives must be adapted according to the specificities of ASM.