Dates:  2021- 2023

Countries of intervention:  Guiana and Suriname

World Wildlife Funds (WWF) – Netherlands
French Fund for the Global Environment (FFEM)

Collaborating Partners:
World Wildlife Funds
Alianza por la Minería Responsable (ARM)
Institute de Recherche pour le Dévelopment (IRD)
Conservation International


  • To reduce mercury contamination in the Guianas by phasing out mercury use in the gold mining sector and contributing to reduce mercury emissions from mining deforestation by 2025.

Project Summary

The Minamata Convention, which entered into force in August 2017, seeks to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury releases. The Guianas region (Guiana, Suriname and French Guiana) is characterized by having large areas rich in gold, exploited mainly by artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM), which although mainly informal (with the exception of Guiana) is considered an important sector for the economy of the region. However, the processes of exploitation of this gold are leading directly or indirectly to the emission of mercury to river ecosystems and food chains, which leads to an important challenge in the implementation of the Minamata Convention.

Through the adoption of diffusion techniques and the adoption of a mercury-free model, this project seeks to reduce the exposure levels of mining communities, including indigenous communities in Guiana and Suriname, as well as to contribute to the local and social development of the country by providing incentives to miners to change their practices to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way. 

To comply with the above, a pilot site will be selected in both Guiana and Suriname that will test mercury-free extraction methods that are technically and socially adapted and are economically viable for the administration of ASM. In a second phase, this model will be replicated in a second pilot site. The establishment of responsibly mined gold will be sought through a due diligence process (CRAFT model) to manage risks related to human rights for legal supply chains, ensuring compliance with the Due Diligence Guide of the OECD and other standards such as LBMA, RMI.


The ASGM sector employs around 40,000 miners throughout the Guiana region and is one of the sectors with the greatest impact on national GDP, although this contribution is difficult to quantify due to the lack of formalization in the sector. The project seeks in this way to impact the mining communities and, in extension, the indigenous communities that are part of it in Guiana and Suriname. 

Since the mining of another contributes significantly to the economy of local communities, it is intended that this mercury-free model has a structural effect that allows them to have a sustainable and efficient economic model from the formality. ARM will seek to integrate sustainable approaches that allow them to be part of supply chains where mining communities can sell their products in niche markets and thus benefit from an increase in their income

Expected Results

The project is expected to implement techniques and a mercury-free extraction method for ASM in Guiana and Suriname at a pilot site in each country, to later be replicated in a second ASM. Likewise, it is expected to define a sustainable roadmap for the pilot sites to be able to interact with market players and promote mercury-free gold production in the Guianas.

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