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ASGM Projects: South America
ASGM Projects: South America

Development and implementation of artisanal and small-scale gold miner training resources for reducing mercury use and release in South America

In collaboration with the Artisanal Gold Council and Cordy Geosciences, and with funding from the U.S. Department of State, this project has developed materials for training miners on technical alternatives and improvements that can be introduced to ASGM operations. These materials were designed with the goal of helping to improve efficiency in the mining process to increase gold recovery while simultaneously reducing the reliance on mecury in ASGM.

The materials include videos that can be used in the classroom as well as lecture material and a series of activities that can be used to develop an 'ideal' mineral processing plant.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) accounts for nearly one-third of all global mercury emissions. Inefficient mining practices coupled with improper use and disposal of mercury have resulted in large amounts of mercury being emitted to the atmosphere and also released directly into the environment. As a result, ASGM sites are often associated with significant ecological and human health impacts.


The First Step to Improved Mining

Proper crushing and milling of ore is the critical first step in ensuring maximum gold recovery. In this video, crushing and milling techniques are reviewed. The video also illustrates the importance of conducting a gold liberation test to optimize milling time.


(versión en Español)


Steps for Improving Gold Recovery

Mineral concentration is a critical step in the chain of production. The process focuses on separating the target mineral, gold, from other non-target minerals. Efficient concentration can effectively eliminate the need for mercury. The technology available depends on a variety of factors including the mineralogy of the ore and the financial capacity available to miners.


 (versión en Español)


Training Materials

Training Materials

Resources for Miners and Trainers

Artisanal Gold Council and Cordy Geosciences, in collaboration with Red Social, coordinated a miner training workshop in Abancay, Peru. At the workshop, miners were given training on how to optimize mineral processing while minimizing the need for mercury use.  A variety of case studies were shared that highlighted examples from around the world where miners have optimized gold extraction while reducing and in some cases eliminating the need for mercury.


ASGM in Practice

ASGM in Practice

Case Studies of Successful Approaches for Reducing Mercury

Case Study: Piura, Peru

Case Study: Brazil  Tapajos River Basin, Itaituba

Case Study: Ecuador — Portovelo, El Oro Province in Southern Ecuador

Case Study: Ecuador — Plan Cero Mercurio

Case Study: Puyango-Tumbes Binational Watershed

Case Study: La Segovia, Colombia

Regional ASGM Projects

Database of ASGM Projects in South America

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  • U.S. Department of State - Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues
  • Artisanal Gold Council
  • Cordy Geosciences
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Universidad de Colombia - Medellin
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