18 February 2019: Reducing the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) and introducing and facilitating access to mercury-free extraction methods is the focus of the Global Opportunities for the Long-term Development of the ASGM Sector (GEF GOLD) programme launched by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and partners.
ASGM accounts for 20 percent of the world’s annual gold production and is the single largest source of man-made mercury emissions, responsible for the release of as much as 1,000 tonnes of mercury into the atmosphere annually.
The five-year programme will work with the Governments of Burkina Faso, Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, the Philippines and Peru to promote miners’ rights, safety and access to markets. GEF GOLD is a partnership between the eight governments, the GEF, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Conservation International.
GEF GOLD will help ensure the gold value chain both supports miners and provides consumers with access to ethically produced, environmentally sustainable gold.
By supporting the regulatory and policy reforms aimed at formalizing the work of artisanal and small-scale miners across the eight programme countries, GEF GOLD seeks to secure miners’ livelihoods through opening up access to markets and finance needed to increase incomes and enable the uptake of mercury-free technology. The programme is expected to phase out mercury use, achieve mercury emission reductions of 369 tonnes and “support countries’ commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate mercury use in the sector.” According to UNDP, the USD 180-million programme will improve conditions for artisanal miners across eight countries while “slashing” harmful mercury emissions.
“By phasing out mercury use and connecting miners to markets for responsibly produced and sourced minerals, GEF GOLD will help to ensure the gold value chain both supports miners and provides consumers with access to ethically produced, environmentally sustainable gold,” said Jacob Duer, Head of the UNEP Chemicals and Health branch. [UNEP Press Release] [UNDP Press Release] [GEF Press Release] [GEF GOLD Video]