Guyana mining area landscape

Guyana

Converting to mercury free by 2025

guyana flag

Centuries after European explorers came in search of the fabled gold city of El Dorado, Guyana continues to be known for its natural resources and growing mining sector. Gold plays a central role in Guyana’s economy, representing about 64% of its foreign exchange and 15% of its total economic output.

planetGOLD project sites in Guyana

The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Guyana is robust, accounting for 70% of its gold production, and it is fully legalized—a unique distinction among gold producing countries. It is also the primary source of employment and revenue for more than 15,000 people in Guyana’s hinterland, including members of local indigenous communities.

Yet challenges remain. Small-scale gold mining is a significant driver of deforestation, and the country’s largest source of mercury emissions. Many ASGM miners use mercury in the final stage of gold extraction, directly exposing themselves to hazardous fumes. Some miners also use mercury in the pit or sluice box, which often results in contamination of waterways, affecting nearby communities.

As the continued expansion of the extractives sector puts pressure on a region with some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, adopting mercury-free, environmentally friendly approaches to mining has become a national priority for Guyana.

 

Key Figures from Guyana

  • 15,000+ people are employed in ASGM sector

  • 78% of mineral production value generated by gold

  • 86% of land is covered by rainforest

  • 94% of mercury emissions generated by mining

 

Guyana’s Approach

In partnership with the national government, planetGOLD Guyana is utilizing a supply chain approach to achieve 100% mercury-free mining by 2025—Guyana’s National Action Plan commitment under the Minamata Convention. By directly involving business enterprises and creating market incentives, the project is utilizing a profit motive to lead the shift toward a mercury-free ASGM commodity chain, with responsibly mined “El Dorado Gold” branded jewelry as the end product.

 

 

Key Strategies

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Establish mercury-free mining processes

 

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Create financial mechanism for investing in new technologies
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Bring responsibly mined mercury-free gold to market
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Develop national policies and incentives for producing mercury-free gold
 
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Educate and raise awareness

Contact planetGOLD Guyana

The planetGOLD Guyana project is implemented by Conservation International and executed in partnership with Conservation International-Guyana, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, National Toshaos Council, Guyana Women Miners Organisation, and the National Mining Syndicate Inc.

Kristia Ramlagan
GEF Communications Coordinator
Conservation International - Guyana
kramlagan@conservation.org

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GGMC logo

 

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