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Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is critical for Uganda’s prospects for economic development. The commodity holds great livelihood significance as an important source of income and employment to miners and their dependents.

planetGOLD project sites in Uganda

An estimated 400,000 – 600,000 women and men work in the wider artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector, approximately 31,600 of whom mine gold. Altogether, the ASM sector supports an additional estimated 2 million people indirectly. Uganda hosts both alluvial and primary gold deposits. While some small and medium sized gold production operations exist with increasing mechanization, the majority of those working in the ASGM sector rely on manual methods of gold extraction.

Artisanal and small-scale mining accounts for more than 90 percent of the country's gold production. The majority of ASGM miners are processing very small quantities of gold (<1 gram), and use of mercury to extract gold is very common. ASGM producing districts in Uganda include Buhweju, Amudat, Moroto, Busia, Namayingo, Kassanda, and Kisoro.

Both women and men are active in the ASGM sector, though their representation varies from one region to another. For example, in districts like Kisoro, women do not make up a high percentage of those working in ASGM production and trading, while in Karamoja region there are mine sites which are comprised of over 90 percent women miners. On average, women’s representation in the sector is estimated to be approximately 45 percent, and women are deemed to be at a high risk of mercury exposure because they are often engaged in the processing and washing stages, where exposure is high.

Key Figures from Uganda

  • 73% of annual ASGM gold is produced with mercury

  • 31,600 people work directly in ASGM

  • 15+ tonnes of mercury are released by ASGM annually

  • 29 ASGM operations or associations have been identified

Uganda's Approach

The planetGOLD Uganda project's objective is to reduce the use of mercury in the country's ASGM sector through a holistic, multisectoral integrated formalization approach and to increase access to finance, leading to adoption of sustainable mercury-free technologies and access to traceable gold supply chains.

The planetGOLD Uganda project plans to support 4,500 men and women at 11 mine sites in the country, reducing mercury use by 15 tonnes over the course of the five-year project. 

Key Strategies

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Optimize formalization of
the ASGM sector 

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Promote financial inclusion and
responsible supply chains

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Enhance uptake of
mercury-free technologies

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Share knowledge and support
local capacity building

Other planetGOLD countries