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Mercury in ASGM: Latest trends from Minamata National Action Plans


  • Malgorzata Stylo
    Associate Programme Officer, Chemicals and Health Branch, United Nations Environment Programme
  • kjd headshot
    Progamme Officer, Chemicals and Health Branch, United Nations Environment Programme

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is crucial to the livelihood of millions of people in over 80 countries, mainly in rural areas with limited alternative economic prospects. ASGM is increasingly recognized as an opportunity to alleviate poverty and contribute to local, national, and regional development.

Development of National Action Plans (NAPs) for ASGM is a requirement under the Minamata Convention on Mercury for each Party that determines that ASGM in its territory is more than insignificant. The objective of the NAP is to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury in ASGM thereby minimizing human and environmental exposure to the toxic metal. To date, 46 countries have started NAP projects funded by the Global Environment Facility. Out of 46 countries, 18 have finalized and submitted their NAP documents to the Secretariat of Minamata Convention. 

nap status june 2022

To assess the wealth of information generated in the NAPs, the finalized documents have been reviewed and quantitative and qualitative data has been extracted. 

Globally, it is estimated that 20 million people are directly involved in ASGM operations in more than 80 countries. About fifth of them are women and children.  Based on data from the submitted NAPs, there are approximately 2,600,000 ASGM miners involved across 18 countries. The share of women miners in the sector ranges from 5 to 65% per country (median 38%).


Mercury reduction targets reported in the NAPs demonstrate a political commitment and provide an indication how much mercury user can be avoided in ASGM by which date. Cumulative baseline mercury use is estimated to be 351.9 tones per year by the 18 countries that have submitted their NAPs. If mercury reduction targets are met, that total will be reduced by 37% by 2025 and 70% by 2030. 

Explore the full database using the dynamic dashboards and browse through thematic stories to learn more about the latest trends in mercury use, workforce, mercury reduction targets, and more for the ASGM sector. 

Blog post was originally posted on the Global Mercury Partnership website on 16 June 2022

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