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Improving practice toward a more responsible ASGM sector

The Latest from planetGOLD Mongolia

Sparsely populated but rich in minerals, Mongolia is among the world’s most dependent countries on natural resource extraction. Over the last 30 years as Mongolians have transitioned away from a centrally planned economy to a market oriented economy, the mining sector has become a significant driver of the country’s economy and wealth—accounting for 80 percent of Mongolian exports and over 70 percent of foreign investment in the country.

planetGOLD project sites in Mongolia

In addition to herding and livestock production, mining is also a significant source of livelihoods in rural areas. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) takes place in most provinces in the country, employing 40,000-60,000 people. A third of these individuals are women, and it is estimated that ASGM indirectly supports another 120,000–180,000 people.

Despite legislative efforts to formalize and regulate the ASGM sector and banning the use of mercury, the sector is still largely informal and clandestine use of mercury continues to exist. In order to make the sector sustainable and mercury-free, however, more needs to be done to speed up and reinforce existing efforts to support formalization, financing options, technology enhancement, and information dissemination.


Key Figures from Mongolia

  • 12-20% of the rural labor force works in ASGM

  • 30% of the country's total revenue is generated by mining

  • 14 out of 21 provinces have ASGM operations

  • 16% of the ASGM sector has been formalized

Mongolia’s Approach

The planetGOLD Mongolia project is working toward eliminating mercury in the ASGM sector by using a bottom-up approach, involving members of the ASGM sector directly in the creation and implementation of policies and practices to sustainably improve mining operations and livelihoods. In partnership with the national government, the project team is working to create an enabling environment for a formalized ASGM sector that enhances community development, improves productivity, and eliminates the use of mercury.


Key Strategies

Icon graphic - formalization

Support formalization
of the ASGM sector 

Mercury icon

Reduce mercury releases
in mining communities 

Icon graphic - awareness raising

Educate and
raise awareness 

Financing icon graphic

Help miners access financing
and international gold markets

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