Artisanal and small scale gold mining is the largest global source of mercury releases into the environment from human activities, with about 35% of total releases from a number of artisanal and small scale gold mining sites in over 70 countries.
The project aims to do this through the provision of technical assistance, technology transfer and facilitating access to financing for the procurement of mercury-free processing equipment.
The artisanal and small scale gold mining sector produces approximately 20% of the world’s annual gold, employs around 15 million people (of which 3 million women and children), while another 100 million people are indirectly dependent on artisanal and small scale gold mining for their livelihoods.
Mercury is often used in artisanal and small scale gold mining to help separate gold from sediments or ore using very basic processing methods. However exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is particularly dangerous to the development of the child in utero and early in life.
The project was launched in Nairobi last week by Kenyan cabinet secretary, ministry of mining Dan Kazungu and principle secretary Charles Sunkuli, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director, Amanda Serumaga.