For the past decade, Indonesia has consistently ranked among the world’s top ten gold producers. Much of this gold production—a segment responsible for an estimated twenty percent of the domestic product and the vast majority of gold-related livelihoods—comes from informal, small-scale sources. Once lauded as an entrepreneurial micro-industry, today informal gold mining is widely considered a negligent criminal activity. It is depicted in national and international media as an environmental disaster which produces “dirty gold.” In response, government and NGO initiatives have attempted to tame this “wild” gold mining with interventions ranging from policing to technological innovation to public health campaigns. But, in treating informal mining as a discrete, technical problem, these modes of governance suffer from multiple blind spots. First, they fail to situate local informal production within the broader gold economy, thereby ignoring dynamics that have propelled the expansion of small-scale gold mining worldwide. Second, debate over informal mining is often framed from the perspective of large-scale, formal mining. This results in narratives which obscure the interconnections between small- and large-scale operations and policies which inherently favor industrial operations. In these cases, environmental standards can easily become an instrument for consolidating corporate control of resources. Finally, governance mechanisms often ignore the internally differentiated nature of informal mining, ultimately leading to further marginalization of the most vulnerable mining participants.