Global Opportunities for the Long-Term Development of the ASGM Sector (2018-2023)
In Burkina Faso, the AGC is working to bring positive changes to the country’s artisanal gold sector in innovative ways. The project will help the country to significantly reduce mercury use in ASGM mining and improve the lives of miners, in part, by developing responsible gold value chains that provide better incomes and opportunities to miners while incentivizing responsible ASGM production. Working with our local and international partners, the AGC will help to develop new financial tools that will allow miners to sell gold more directly to the domestic and international market while capturing a greater share of the value of the gold they produce. Increased revenues and state financing programs will allow miners to reinvest some of their profits in their operations and their communities to achieve positive social and environmental change. At the same time, the project will help to improve and where necessary, develop policy tools and local capacities to manage mercury use and steer the sector towards greater responsible gold production. Finally, we will build on the past success of our pilot mercury-free processing system in Zopal, by developing new programs to train miners in mercury-free techniques and supporting the replication of mercury-free systems across the country. Partners: GEF, UNIDO, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Mines and Energy Burkina Faso Ministry of the Environment, Argor Herraeus. This project is currently in the project design phase and is expected to begin in 2018.
SENEGAL AND GUINEA
Reducing Mercury Use and Release from Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa (2015-2017)
This project builds on the successes of previous projects conducted by the AGC in West Africa. The successful installation of pilot mercury free processing systems in Zopal in Burkina Faso and Bantako in Senegal in 2014/15 has led to the development of this current West African project. In Senegal, this project focuses on maintaining the operational successes of the Bantako system by providing further miner training, both to the existing operational team, and to neighbouring miner groups to increase exposure and capacity in mercury free practices. A supply chain component will ensure the legal and transparent delivery of gold produced from the pilot system to international markets. In Guinea the project aims to produce national ASGM inventory estimates, and includes a scoping and feasibility component to assess the potential for future technical interventions.
The Senegal portion of the project will provide technical support to the GIE Foukhaba, the mining group operating the AGC’s pilot processing system and training center in Bantako. This support will include further training on machine maintenance and direct smelting of gold concentrates, work begun during previous AGC projects. Additionally, mercury free processing workshops for miners from surrounding communities will be held on the Bantako installation site. Interested mining groups will be brought to site for demonstrations and training to increase exposure to best practices in mineral processing. A supply chain component of the project will develop the infrastructure required to bring the gold produced from the Bantako system from mine to market, yielding miners a better price for their gold than currently received in the field, and bringing a new stream of socially responsible mercury free artisanal gold to international markets.
The Guinean component of this project aims to collect further information to characterize the country’s ASGM sector through field visits and stakeholder meetings. The sector is poorly understood, with little publicly available data surrounding the style, amount, and distribution of artisanal mining in the country. An ASGM inventory will be completed to define primary mining regions and the practices applied, and to constrain gold production, miner population, and mercury usage in Guinea. Field work for inventory analysis will be coupled with scoping for potential technical intervention sites, and installation logistics will be assessed to better understand the feasibility of conducting such technical interventions. This work will provide vital background knowledge needed to proceed with the development of action plans for future improvements to the country’s ASGM sector. Partners: United States Department of State (USDoS)
National Action Plan on Mercury for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector (2015-2017)
As the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector is a major source of mercury release and environmental pollution in the world, the Minamata Convention requires countries which determine that ASGM activities are more than insignificant in their territory to develop a national action plan (NAP) to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury and mercury compounds within three years of the treaty entering into force. Within each country the AGC will develop a national analysis of the ASGM sector, including a baseline inventory of mercury use and mining practices. The analysis will provide the basis for identifying national objectives, as well as setting targets and strategies to eliminate worst practices and facilitate the formalization of the sector. The intent of working on each NAP is also to improve the health of the miners and ASGM communities by developing a public health strategy for the sector. The strategy will be based on the health situation and institutional capacity needs assessments that will be conducted by the AGC. Awareness will be raised on the risks of mercury use and also on the development of the NAP among relevant stakeholders. To conclude, the AGC will support these governments to endorse their NAPs, define schedules for their implementation and officially submit them to the Minamata Convention Secretariat. Partners: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
MALI AND SENEGAL
National Action Plan on Mercury for the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector (2016-2018)
As the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector is a major source of mercury release and environmental pollution in the world, the Minamata Convention requires countries which determine that ASGM activities are more than insignificant in their territory to develop a national action plan (NAP) to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury and mercury compounds within three years of the treaty entering into force. Within each country the AGC will develop a national analysis of the ASGM sector, including a baseline inventory of mercury use and mining practices. The analysis will provide the basis for identifying national objectives, as well as setting targets and strategies to eliminate worst practices and facilitate the formalization of the sector. The intent of working on each NAP is also to improve the health of the miners and ASGM communities by developing a public health strategy for the sector. The strategy will be based on the health situation and institutional capacity needs assessments that will be conducted by the AGC. Awareness will be raised on the risks of mercury use and also on the development of the NAP among relevant stakeholders. To conclude, the AGC will support these governments to endorse their NAPs, define schedules for their implementation and officially submit them to the Minamata Convention Secretariat. Partners: United Nations Environment (UNE) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
SIERRA LEONE AND GHANA
Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector Baseline Inventory Training for National Action Plans
Under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, all countries with more than insignificant mercury use in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) are required to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) to address mercury use in the sector. A key component of the NAP is the development of baseline estimates of mercury use. The sector must be well understood to allow the development of clear and meaningful objectives and strategies for reducing mercury use. Conducting a baseline inventory for mercury use allows the opportunity to gather significant insight into the operations of a country’s ASGM sector. The AGC have developed a general methodology for conducting baseline inventory estimates of a country’s ASGM sector, while simultaneously collecting the general information on the practices applied and spatial distribution of ASGM needed to inform the development objectives and strategies for mercury reduction required under the NAP development. To assist other executing agencies with the development of their baseline inventory estimates, and in collecting the information needed to inform the meaningful development of National Action Plans, the AGC have developed an in depth ASGM sector assessment training, focused largely on producing baseline inventory estimates. The training consists of classroom trainings introducing common practices in ASGM, the AGC inventory methodologies, tools and approaches for data collection, and presents a case study of a completed ASGM inventory. The classroom training is followed by site visits to practice data acquisition in the field, and to gain exposure to the realities of ASGM extraction and processing practices. This field component is followed by a final classroom session to review the data collected, practice producing inventory estimates using the real field data collected, and to begin the discussion for the development of a country specific ASGM inventory approach. Partners: various local agencies – ongoing project.
Ghana Baseline ASGM Inventory Training
The Artisanal Gold Council were contracted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to assist in preparing a team of local Ghanaian inventory specialists to conduct baseline mercury inventory work for the Ghana NAP. NRDC are the executing agency of this NAP, and are working closely with local partners and NGO Friends of the Nation (FON) to complete the baseline mercury inventory.
The training was completed from March 7-10, 2017. The training consisted of a one day classroom introduction to ASGM and inventory methods for a group of 10 stakeholders from various organizations including government, academic institutions, NGOs, and miners and mining organizations. This initial classroom introduction was followed by two days of field training including visits to 4 separate ASGM sites (both extraction and processing), to introduce participants to the field realities of ASGM, field data acquisition techniques, and to practice collecting inventory data from the field. A final day of classroom training was conducted to review the field data collected and practice producing site specific ASGM inventory estimates. A follow up discussion was included on next steps to developing a country specific baseline inventory estimates, and key steps to the initial national level assessment of the sector. The trainings have prepared the inventory group of five members from FON to develop the inventory methodologies for Ghana, and to collect field data from key regions once the specific methodologies for the Ghanaian context have been defined. Other members of the training will provide assistance and insight into the various ASGM regions of Ghana during the national level scoping to assist FON in developing the best country specific approach considering timelines and budget available. The information collected during the baseline inventory work will provide fundamental insight and information, guiding the development of strategies and objectives for mercury reduction, to be included in the final Sierra Leone NAP document.
Sierra Leone Baseline ASGM Inventory Training
The Artisanal Gold Council were contracted by the United Nations Institute for Teaching and Research (UNITAR) to assist in preparing a team of local Sierra Leonean inventory specialists to conduct baseline mercury inventory work for the Sierra Leone NAP. UNITAR are the executing agency of this NAP, and are working closely with local partners, the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to complete the baseline mercury inventory. The training was completed from March 13-16, 2017. The training consisted of a two day classroom portion introducing ASGM and inventory methods to a group of 20 stakeholders from various organizations including government, academic institutions, private sector, NGOs, community groups, miners and mining organizations. The classroom training was followed by one day of field training, and a final classroom session to review field data collected. Field training was completed with four local ASGM specialists to prepare workers for field data acquisition. The trainings have prepared a key group of stakeholders with the knowledge, skills, and tools required to develop a Sierra Leone specific approach to produce baseline inventory estimates, and to collect the data needed to produce these estimates. The information collected during the baseline inventory work will provide fundamental insight and information, guiding the development of strategies and objectives for mercury reduction, to be included in the final Sierra Leone NAP document.
National Action Plan Development and ASGM Inventory Training (2013-2014)
As a part of the Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management (SAICM), the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) has commenced work in the Ivory Coast. The SAICM Ivory Coast program aims to reduce the risks associated with mercury use in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM) while improving the environmental and economic performance of the sector. The obligations surrounding ASGM under the Minamata convention on mercury will play a key role in guiding this process. The AGC carried out a two day training session with government officials, academics, civil society and ASGM representatives in an effort to build capacity within the country to carry out ASGM inventories and to design and implement a National Action Plan (NAP) on ASGM. A key component of this training was the elaboration of ASGM inventory methodologies. A selected group will follow up on the training by carrying out a partial inventory of the ASGM sector in the Ivory Coast under the guidance of the AGC. Strengthened capacity and a national inventory on ASGM in the Ivory Coast will assist the government in developing and implementing an effective and pragmatic National Action Plan on ASGM, making the Ivory Coast a leader in the governance of the ASGM. Developed and refined by the AGC, this training is the first of its kind in West Africa. The development of inventory and NAP training is a part of a larger goal of the AGC to increase knowledge and understanding of ASGM while finding innovative and effective solutions for building local capacity for ASGM governance. Partners: Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA
Mercury Reduction, Formalization, and Supply Chain Management in Artisanal Gold Mining (2012-2015)
The Artisanal Gold Council has increased our programming to support the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal.The regional program will build local capacities to address the growing issues surrounding ASGM including the use of mercury and cyanide, regularization of the informal economy, health and safety, and supply chain management.The AGC will work with local and international partners to create robust ASGM national inventories, mercury free processing sites, and innovative paths forward towards commercialization. Additionally, in collaboration with national governments the AGC will help create National Strategic Action Plans for mercury which will inform the globally legally binding instruments on mercury currently being negotiated through the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Partners: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Global Environment Facility (GEF), and United States Department of State (USDoS)
Delivery of Mercury-free and Mercury Reduction Technologies & Training to Artisanal Miners (2012)
The Artisanal Gold Council delivered mercury reduction and mercury-free technology training to artisanal gold miners at 5 different mine locations in Ghana as apart of a larger Fairtrade Fair mined certification program by Solidaridad. During this visit to Ghana the AGC conducted assessments of the participating mine sites and delivered highly specialized, site-specific, training on mercury-free and mercury-reduction technologies. Ghana is the second largest gold producer in Africa. The objectives of the training sessions were to improve the work safety and responsibility of the miners with respect to transitioning away from mercury-use and improve mercury safety during this transition period. To accomplish this, a flexible mercury-free and mercury-reduced training curriculum was designed to be delivered to miners in this “train the trainer” model. This hands-on approach included selected topics such as the correct use and construction of retorts, mercury-free direct smelting techniques, 99.9% purity gold refining, and general mercury health and safety information. Partner: Solidaridad
FRANCOPHONE WEST AFRICA
Reducing Mercury in Artisanal Gold Mining (2011-2014)
The principle goal of the project is to develop and implement an intervention model that self replicates to reduce and eventually eliminate mercury use in small scale gold mining operations, while improving health, environment and wealth of ASGM communities. Self-replication requires incentives and education. Measures of success for the intervention model will include: improvement of economic opportunities for miners and their communities, increased knowledge of health, safety, and environment, and a measured reduction in mercury use. The project includes training and education programs using a variety of approaches including print media, demonstrations, social media, and cell phones. There are four phases to the project: (A) Preliminary Coordination; (B) Pilot Community Implementation and Training; (C) Replication to Other Communities; (D) Evaluation, Project Closure and Future Planning. Partner: United States Department of State (USDoS)
Better ASGM Practices in Zamfara (2011-2012)
The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) was invited by Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to conduct an emergency assessment and recommendations on the implementation of a safer mining practices within artisanal and small-scale gold mining communities of Zamfara State, Nigeria. A safer mining program is urgently needed in Zamfara in order to minimize and where feasible eliminate lead and mercury exposures to thousands of men, women and children. Our suggested program would include improved extraction technologies that minimize contamination, waste management to permanently remove and contain contaminated materials from communities and ASGM sites, health and safety education, and policy evaluation and analysis to ensure full government support. Partners: Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Reducing Mercury Emissions from Gold Shops (2010-2011)
The Artisanal Gold Council, along with the EEB and AGENDA – a pioneering environmentally responsible development, collaborated on a project to reduce mercury emissions from gold shops in small-scale gold mining communities in Tanzania. Following an initial assessment of the ASGM occurring in the Mwanza region, a detailed feasibility and implementation study was conducted to produce recommendations for improvements. To reduce the use and exposure of mercury, mercury vapour condensers were installed in gold shops. The condensers capture mercury vapour that would otherwise be released directly into ASM communities when amalgam is burned. The goals of the project were to encourage the propagation of this technology through demonstration of its economic and health benefits, and to increase awareness about the dangers of mercury exposure. Partners: European Environmental Bureau (EEB), AGENDA (Tanzania based NGO)
Introduction of Direct Smelting Technology (2010-2011)
The AGC worked with UMaT to develop, improve, and introduce direct smelting technology to groups of miners who use mercury to recover gold. Over the past five years, UMaT has successfully developed a direct smelting kit which has been provided to miners at subsidized rates. This work has demonstrated that purifying gold without the use of mercury is possible in this context. The kit consists of an efficient furnace, a few common compounds, and some other tools which enable gold concentrates to be directly smelted, thereby avoiding the mercury amalgamation step. This project focused on testing, adapting, and improving the technology, as well as introducing the direct smelting approach to a wider audience. Education on the negative health impacts of mercury was delivered along with training on the direct smelting technology. Partner: University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, Ghana.