Gold and Mercury - Home



                                                                                               Miners repairing a hammer mill, Ghana

New members should contact Kevi Telmer at
The Working Group was created to address the important problems of use of mercury in recovering gold from ores in approximately 70 countries in the developing World and their implications for the environment and society. The main objectives are to educate on, and participate in developing, disseminating and implementing solutions associated with this issue.
Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) to recover gold from ores and sediments occurs in approximately seventy countries. A minimum of 1000 tonnes of mercury is used each year for this, making mercury use in ASGM the largest direct use source of mercury to the global environment. World Emissions of Mercury from Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining, (begin at page 18) by Dr. Kevin Telmer (Chair of the Gold and Mercury Working Group) and Dr. Marcello Veiga provides a thorough explanation of how, why and where mercury is used in ASGM. The publication also provides a global estimate of total mercury used in ASGM on a country by country basis.

Working group composition

The core members of the activity are:

Dr Kevin Telmer (Chair)
Daniel Stapper (Information Co-ordinator)
Dr Ben Mapani
Dr Sulemana Al-Hassan
Dr Mihir Deb

UNEP Global Mercury Partnership

IUGS-GEM is an official member of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership
In February 2009 the United Nations Environment Program agreed on the need to develop a global legally binding instrument on mercury. This is being undertaken by an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee supported by the Chemicals Branch of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics as secretariat. Participation in the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) is open to all Governments. Non-governmental organizations are playing a key role in the process as observers, but also as educators. Work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee is being carried out over five sessions, three of which have already taken place.
Activities and publications 

 The Gold and Mercury Working Group contributed to the major landmark publication of UNEP/Artisanal Gold Council – a Practical Guide on Reducing Mercury Use in Small Scale Gold Mining.

 A working group meeting was held in Ghana.


 The working group continued inputs to the dissemination of the UNEP/Artisanal Gold Council Practical Guide through capacity building events and participated in negotiating sessions of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership starting in 2012 and running into 2013.

 A working group meeting was held in India.


 The Group facilitated the translation of the Guide into Portuguese to assist dissemination in Brazil and Portuguese speaking countries in Africa.

 Workshop meetings were held in Zimbabwe and Mozambique to focus on the substitution of borax for mercury in gold extraction.

 A guide on safer practices for miners in India, who are essentially antagonistic to change, was prepared. 


 The Working Group continued to demonstrate and promote better practices in artisanal and small-scale gold mining through:

 ·         Installation of a mercury free gold processing system and training centre in Burkina Faso with the support of the USDOS and UNIDO;

·         A responsible artisanal gold supply chain pilot project in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Partnership Africa Canada that helped a group of miners increase gold recovery by 30% and bring the gold into the legal trading system;

·         Technical workshops in Ghana to help miners improve practices and reduce mercury use;

·         Production and distribution of practical guides for governments, civil society and miners on reducing and eliminating mercury use in artisanal gold mining in English, French and Spanish for Africa and Latin America; and

·         Developing a draft guide on creating ASGM inventories for improvement of mercury use estimation and reporting and assisting the development of 5 National Action Plans under the requirements of the Minimata Convention and a global database and portal to track ASGM mercury inventories and to serve this information publicly at .