Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is an activity intimately associated with social deprivation and environmental degradation, including deforestation. This paper examines ASM and deforestation using a broadly poststructural political ecology framework. Hegemonic discourses are shown to consistently influence policy direction, particularly in emerging approaches such as Corporate Social Responsibility and the Forest Stewardship Council. A review of alternative discourses reveals that the poststructural method is useful for critiquing the international policy arena but does not inform new approaches. Synthesis of the analysis leads to conclusions that echo a growing body of literature advocating for policies to become increasingly sensitive to local contexts, synergistic between actors at difference scales, and to be integrated across sectors.