Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is an important source of livelihood for millions of people around the world. While this mining provides a much needed income source for miners, their families, and their communities, artisanal and small-scale mining itself can expose miners to numerous health and safety hazards as many groups operate informally and do not comply with occupational health and safety protocols.
In support of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, our partner the Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) highlighted five of its country projects in the Asia-Pacific region, including two planetGOLD country projects, and their initiatives that actively address occupational health and safety hazards in the ASGM sector.
AGC is the executing agency for the planetGOLD projects in Mongolia and the Philippines, which are supported by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The projects aim to improve the ASGM sectors of both countries from miners to refiners towards a more responsible and sustainable artisanal mining sector.
In both countries, each project team currently assesses the occupational health and safety (OHS) situation at mine sites and works with local authorities to plan efficient OHS training for miners in collaboration with national training partners. They also support countries with keeping their commitments to the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Mercury exposure is a rather unique occupational hazard in the ASGM sector, and the Minamata Convention as an international treaty is an important driver to control mercury use in the sector. To aid in the implementation of the country’s National Action Plan, planetGOLD Mongolia is for example raising awareness among various stakeholder groups about the dangers of mercury to human health and environment.
In early 2020, of course, a new threat to occupational safety and health for artisanal and small-scale miners arose with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Mongolia and Philippines teams received training on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, modes of transmission, how it can be prevented, and where to access reliable information. Based on the training, the teams developed information, education, and communication (IEC) materials to disseminate in artisanal mining communities. The planetGOLD Philippines team will also be distributing hygiene kits (masks, disinfectant and hand sanitizer) to project sites and stakeholders in the coming weeks.
To learn more about the approaches to reducing occupational health and safety risks for ASGM communities being undertaken by planetGOLD Mongolia and Philippines, as well as other related projects, read the full article on AGC’s website.