One of the biggest challenges in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector is the reduction and elimination of mercury, a chemical element that poses grave risks to people and biodiversity. It is a complex, multi-dimensional and long-term process, and partnerships play a key role in supporting and incentivizing miners on their path to better practices. 

On the 8th of November, Marcin Piersiak, Executive Director ARM Europe, participated in the Global Forum on Environment, an event organized by the OECD to inform on progress on global efforts to phase out mercury from various industries, including the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM). 

In a panel on due diligence in gold and mercury supply chains, Marcin showed examples of how financing from gold industry partners can be distributed to miners, as part of supply chain due diligence risk mitigation efforts, including the risks related to mercury use. 

Three diverse case studies were described: a transition of a Fairmined certified organisation from Peru towards mercury elimination, a struggle of a group of women miners from Colombia towards administrating their own mercury-free processing plant, and a process of technological change of artisanal miners in three mine sites in Burkina Faso, supported by formalization and strengthening of internal governance to achieve a sustainable appropriation of the transformation by the miners.

Our 18 years of fieldwork experience at the Alliance for Responsible Mining have shown that mercury reduction and elimination is a long-term process that needs a robust organizational structure, trust-building, incentives, and accompaniment. It is, therefore, a perfect match for a long-term relationship between miners and market actors based on due diligence that aims at continuous improvement: ” Marcin Piersiak. 

While the industry engagement with ASM, strongly recommended by the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, is essential to support the transition, countries should also ensure that more vulnerable miners are not left behind in the efforts to reduce mercury emissions. 

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