congo landscape

Republic of the Congo

In the Republic of the Congo, the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector is an important source of livelihoods, mainly in rural areas. This sector is expanding rapidly, with a 20 percent increase in the number of artisanal miners over the last decade and a production of more than 500 kg of gold each year.

planetGOLD project sites in Republic of the Congo

Although the country’s ASGM sector is still at an early stage of development, it has a diversified workforce and an increasing number of workers coming from other West African nations, although about 85 percent of miners are Congolese. More than 5,000-10,000 miners work in the sector, who are collectively responsible for the release of as much as 2.3 tonnes of mercury into the environment every year from both rudimentary and semi-mechanised refining operations. 

The use of mercury in Congo is of particular concern given the nation’s global environmental significance. Sixty-five percent of the country lies within the Congo Basin, Africa’s largest contiguous tropical forest. A region of incredible biodiversity, the forest is also one of world’s largest carbon sinks,  making the continued health of the forest vital to global climate stability.

With 92 percent of Congo’s gold miners operating informally, mercury contamination and illegal deforestation for mining expansion are endangering the Congo Basin landscape and the indigenous communities that live there.

Informality in the Congolese ASGM sector makes it difficult for artisanal miners to organize and to access the traditional sources of financing such as banks and microfinance which would allow them to transition to responsible and efficient processing technologies.

The Congolese government is committed to reducing mercury pollution, having ratified the Minamata Convention in 2010 and completed an ASGM National Action Plan in December 2019 with the objective to formalize the sector by strengthening legal, institutional, and financial aspects while reducing and eliminating mercury use. The planetGOLD Republic of the Congo project will provide concrete support to the implementation of the National Action Plan.

Key Figures from Republic of the Congo

  • 5000+ artisanal gold miners working the country

  • 20% increase in the number of miners over the last decade

  • 253 identified ASGM mining sites in the country

  • 500+ kg of ASGM gold produced per year

Republic of the Congo's Approach

The planetGOLD Republic of the Congo project's objective is to prevent damage to human health and the environment by reducing the use of mercury in the ASGM sector. 

The project will contribute to a reduction in mercury emissions of one tonne over the 5 years of its implementation. An estimated 1,500 miners (1000 men and 500 women) will directly benefit from the project. The project estimates that 42,809 hectares of land will benefit from improved practices. 

Key Strategies

Icon graphic - formalization

Optimize formalization of
the ASGM sector 

Financing icon graphic

Promote financial inclusion and
responsible supply chains

Icon graphic - technology

Enhance uptake of
mercury-free technologies

Icon graphic - awareness raising

Share knowledge and support
local capacity building

Other planetGOLD countries