Lake Victoria Kenya


Supporting the adoption of mercury-free technologies for a safer environment and better livelihoods

The remote regions of western Kenya near Lake Victoria are rich in gold ore. Most of the country’s artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) activities are carried out in these rural areas, where mining and subsistence agriculture are the major ways of earning a living.

planetGOLD project sites in Kenya

There are more than 250,000 ASGM miners in the country—a number that is continually increasing as more people are recruited into gold mining as a main livelihood source. With high population growth in western Kenya and insufficient jobs for youth, ASGM provides critical income to meet miners’ daily living costs. Yet miners often work in dangerous conditions with technologies for micro-scale operations that include the use of toxic substances like mercury. This has considerable impacts on their health and releases hazardous pollution to the environment.

The vast majority of ASGM operations in Kenya are still informal because no legal framework for regulating the sector existed until 2016, and formalization has proceeded slowly since then. This presents an opportunity for the promotion and adoption of alternative technologies that are safe for the environment and the miners, and also profitable when in use by bigger and better organized groupings.

With significant gold reserves that remain underexplored, Kenya’s ASGM industry has the potential to become a driver of socially and environmentally responsible economic development in the western areas. This transformation will require fully formalizing the sector, enabling miners to access and receive training on cleaner mercury-free technologies and, critically, improving miners’ access to finance and investment in the mercury-free technologies.


Key Figures from Kenya

  • 40% of ASGM miners are women

  • 1 million+ people's livelihoods depend on ASGM

  • 2.1 tonnes of mercury are currently emitted from ASGM each year

  • 10% of GDP is expected to come from ASGM by 2030

Kenya's Approach

The planetGOLD Kenya project’s objective is to support formalization of the ASGM sector and the development of responsible mining, by increasing the government and private sector’s capacity and improving regulatory frameworks. This will improve ASGM operations’ access to adequate financial and technical services for the uptake of mercury-free ore processing. The project will also pilot and train miners in the use of best practice technologies that eliminate mercury.

The planetGOLD Kenya project will support 6 mining communities to reduce mercury use by 1.5 tonnes over the course of the five-year project.


Key Strategies

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Support formalization of the ASGM sector 

Financing icon graphic

Help miners access financing for mercury-free technologies

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Provide technical assistance and training on alternative technologies 

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Raise awareness and disseminate best practices 

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