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Technical GuidanceReducing Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining: A Practical Guide, June 2012

This document has been produced to help inform policy makers, miners and civil society about available technologies and approaches for reducing, and ultimately eliminating, mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). The document aims to be a simple educational and planning tool for improving practices in ASGM and to provide some explanation of the technical fundamentals that underpin and encourage formalization. It is also hoped that this booklet is an informative resource with which to learn more about the often misunderstood ASGM sector.


French version

Spanish version

Field Health Education Flip Chart

The Artisanal Gold Council releases the first version of its field health education flip charts

This is an educational material accompanies with “Health Issues in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining: Training for Health Professionals." Good to be printed on letter or lager size papers and be used in the field. Health professionals can use this material to demonstrate key concepts for the public with one colored page faces the audience, and some reminders face themselves.

French version

Retort Guide: Using Retorts to Reduce Mercury Use, Emissions, and Exposures in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining: A Practical Guide

The Artisanal Gold Council releases the first version of its Retort Guide.

One of the key messages in the guide that has not often been clearly described is that retorts - although they are simple technology - have complex operational and handling requirements that must be strictly followed to avoid causing increased human exposure to users and community members. We have seen many instances where retorts reduce mercury emissions to the environment but have actually increased local human exposure due to improper use or handling and location. We therefore view them as a technology that should be used on the path towards the transition to zero mercury use rather than as a permanent feature of the ASGM sector.

Health Manual: Health Issues in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining -- Training for Health Professionals

The Artisanal Gold Council releases the first version of its training manual on health in ASGM

This publication was created to guide the training of health practitioners on health risks that are common in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector with a focus on mercury, dust, and hygiene. It is short and graphic and accessible to other audiences including government, industry and civil society.

One of the purposes of the manual is to help with implementation of Minamata Convention obligations as specified in Article 7; Annex C. In particular the manual addresses the following three elements from Annex C that must be included in National Action Plans.

French version

Analysis of formalization approaches in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector, June 2012

In order to promote the establishment of sound legal frameworks for the ASGM sector, UNEP conducted a study of formalization approaches in ASGM based on experiences in Ecuador, Mongolia, Peru, Tanzania and Uganda. This work resulted in case-studies documents on the five above-mentioned countries. The analysis document identifies key recommendations which inform the debate and identifies lessons learned that may be applicable in other countries. Formalization is a key factor enabling outreach on mercury management and other social concerns in ASGM communities.  While formalization of the sector remains a significant challenge, the lack of formalization in ASGM is widely considered a barrier for miners in implementing change.

Case Studies

Environment for Development Perspectives: Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold mining, August 2011

The paper provides a synthesis of existing knowledge to frame the economic argument for investing in mercury reduction/elimination in artisanal and small-scale gold mining as part of development strategies for this sector. 

The objective of this paper is to provide an analytical foundation including often omitted negative external consequences for concurrent and future studies conducted under the Global Mercury Partnership. The aim is to identify the economic challenges and opportunities for reducing mercury in artisanal and small-scale practices, with the goal of eliminating its use wherever possible. This approach ultimately seeks to motivate greater political, private sector and civil society support for significant reduction or elimination of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold production.

UNEP Guidance Document: Developing a National Strategic Plan to Reduce Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining, July 2011


English version

French version

Spanish version

US Environmental Protection Agency Mercury Capture System brochure, June 2011


English version

French version

The Price of Gold: Mercury Use and Current Issues in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining in the Philippines, March 2011

Squeezing gold from a stone: How to Reduce Toxic Health Risks and Pollution Caused by Mercury Use in the Small-Scale & Artisanal Gold Mining Sector, November 2009

Technology demonstration for reducing mercury emissions from small-scale gold refining facilities. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of International Affairs, February 2008

Strengthening Surinamese involvement in activities related to Mercury pollution in Suriname, January 2008

UNIDO Technical Guidelines on Mercury Management in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining, April 2008

Comparison of Different Gold Recovery Methods with regard to Pollution Control and Efficiency

Protocols for Environmental and Health Assessment of Mercury Released by Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Miners An output of the UNIDO Global Mercury Project, 2004