United Nations Environment Programme environment for development

Reducing Mercury Impacts in Small-Scale Gold Mining - Read more
Hg in gold mining
Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining
Reducing Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM)


Mercury releases from Artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) is estimated to be about 1400 tonne/year making it the largest global demand sector for mercury. Virtually all of the mercury used is released to the environment.

This sector produces about 12-15% of the world's gold. An estimated 10-15 million miners, including 4-5  million women and children, are involved in the sector.

ASGM is a complex global development issue. Mercury exposure to miners and their communities can be reduced in simple and cost effective ways. Reducing or stopping mercury use in ASGM must be carried our as part of broader sustainable development efforts. 

Partnership Priority Actions 

  • Support government efforts in setting national objectives/reduction targets for ASGM.
  • Eliminate the worst practices in ASGM.
  • Explore innovative market-based approaches to enable the transition away from mercury.