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.