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One of the 15 most biodiverse countries in the world, Bolivia ranks 7th in bird diversity, 10th in mammal diversity, and 11th in floral richness. With an economy mainly based on the extraction and export of raw materials, artisanal and small-scale mining in Bolivia produced 46 tonnes of gold in 2021.

planetGOLD project sites in Bolivia

Mining is an important economic sector in the country, contributing around 6% to the Gross Domestic Product in 2019. Due to the high degree of informality in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector and frequent lack of awareness of risks and dangers, most ASGM operations in Bolivia still use mercury to extract gold. This means that this sector is the largest source of mercury pollution in the country, which brings serious impacts on both the environment and human health.

The Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia recognizes three types of mining: state-led mining, private-led mining, and mining cooperatives. Approximately 85% of all mining is managed by the cooperatives, and their contribution through royalties paid has increased as well as the number of beneficiaries from rural areas. Data from 2022 suggests that there are around 1,700 gold mining cooperatives in the country.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury on November 18, 2015. The planetGOLD Bolivia project will faciliate Bolivia's implementation of the Minamata Convention through reducing and, where possible, eliminating the use of mercury in ASGM.

Key Figures from Bolivia

  • 99% of gold produced comes from mining cooperatives

  • 46 tonnes of ASM gold produced in 2021

  • 180,000 people directly involved in ASGM

  • 10,000+ women directly involved in ASGM activities

Bolivia's Approach 

The planetGOLD Bolivia project is designed to reduce and, where possible, eliminate the use of mercury in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining  by increasing the mining sector's access to the financing needed to acquire mercury-free processing technologies; technical assistance; technology transfer and support for formalization, as well as raising awareness and dissemination of lessons learned in the sector.

The project will focus its work in four mining districts, where the aim is to reduce the use of mercury by a total of 18 tonnes during the project’s 5-year implementation period.

The planetGOLD project in Bolivia will directly and indirectly support the mining sector in the four mining districts where the project will be developed.

Key Strategies

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Optimize formalization of
the ASGM sector 

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Promote financial inclusion and
responsible supply chains

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Enhance uptake of
mercury-free technologies

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Share knowledge and support
local capacity building

Other planetGOLD countries