The looming third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have devastating impacts in many countries in the Global South, with far worse health outcomes and economic implications. While formal and informal income sources in LMICs are collapsing, the ASGM sector offers a rare and desperately needed income opportunity due to the stable or rising international gold price. At the same time, artisanal mining communities can be considered as most-affected and at-risk group according to the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19.
A combination of factors is driving the continued use of mercury, including the lucrativeness of the trade, the informality of the ASGM sector, the poverty of many miners and the power imbalance between many traders and miners. Mercury governance within the investigated countries has potential for improvement. To tackle the mercury problem, action should be taken that addresses the problem from all angles and takes all key stakeholders into account. The report is a compilation of findings from investigations that IUCN NL’s local partner organisations carried out. More detailed findings for each country can be found in the respective country/regional report.