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Abstract Title: Improving Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining data and ensuring successful interventions are replicated
Presenter Name: Ludovic Bernaudat
Company/Institution: UNEP
Session: How are we doing in implementing the Minamata Convention?
Day and Session: Monday 25th July - Session Four
Start Time: 15:30 UTC
Co-Authors: Ludovic Bernaudat,Susan Keane

Abstract Information :

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is a widespread activity, present in 80 countries and producing up to 20% of the world?s gold. It employs 15 million miners, of which approximate 4-5 million are women and children, and is the source of livelihood for 100 million people, often in rural and remote areas where little economic alternatives exist. Because of the high price of gold and the minimal transformation steps required to create the final bullion, ASGM should be an ideal vehicle for transfer of wealth to poor, rural mining communities, resulting in poverty reduction. However, complicated legal systems, lack of institutional support, lack of awareness on appropriate technologies and long value chains (often on the margin of legality) mean that mining communities are not emerging from poverty, and the sector continues to use cheap and available mercury as the primary mechanism of gold extraction. The result is that ASGM remains the largest user and emitter of mercury globally. Unfortunately, mercury is cheap, easy, widely available, even in the most remote communities, and its application to ores provides the ability to produce a daily gold output. This means that, although the sector has benefitted from international assistance for many years, the full picture of the extent of its operations and more importantly the use and release of mercury is still very uncertain and the adoption of mercury-free technologies is limited to a few sites which have benefitted from international assistance in the past.

In order to design and implement sustainable changes, we need better and consistent data on the extent of the sector, disseminate the successes in reducing and where feasible eliminate the use of mercury by the sector while focusing on the social and economic challenges in these communities.

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