Elimination of Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining project launchesEnvironment
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme and UN Industrialization Development Organization launched the five year project ‘Elimination of Mercury in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining’ with the Global Environment Fund financing.
Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Ts.Batbayar noted in his opening remarks that the project is aimed at creating legal mechanism for formalizing artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASM), testing and introducing mercury-free gold mining technologies, opening up new financial and investment opportunities, creating a system for legal sales of artisanal gold.
Harmful effects of mercury use on environment and health is the challenge faced not only by Mongolia, but also several other countries including Burkina Faso, Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru and the Philippines. The project will be implemented in the above mentioned eight countries.
Mongolia’s transit to a market economy in the early 1990s resulted in a rise in unemployment caused by privatization and economic difficulties, and people started to make a living from illegal mining. Number of illegal miners dramatically grew, reaching over 100 thousand in 2007. However, according to the National Statistics Office survey, the number of illegal gold miners reduced by 30-40 percent in the recent years.
According to the Environmental Condition Report, about 30 percent of mining related land disturbance is caused by artisanal miners. Thus, the project will pay special attention to provide technical and financial assistance for mitigating environmental impacts of ASM and fulfillment of the obligation to rehabilitate the environment.