Supporting Artisanal Gold Miners to Become Environmentally Responsible

Supporting Artisanal Gold Miners to Become Environmentally Responsible

Is it possible to advance gender equality, development, and peace while supporting communities to protect the environment?

We don’t just think so—it’s the unique strategic value of our mission.

Our latest brochure outlines IMPACT’s approach and efforts on environmental stewardship, one of our five focus areas.

Environmental stewardship is how we interact with the environment to ensure protection, conservation, and sustainability.

We leverage in-house technical mining and environmental expertise to help eliminate mercury, protect biodiversity, and rehabilitate the land while improving the health and safety of miners.

While mining is inherently destructive, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is unique.

It uses rudimentary methods, tends to occur in environmentally sensitive areas and areas susceptible to conflict, and is often driven by poverty.

ASM gold plays a crucial role in local communities. It feeds children, pays school fees, builds homes, and promises futures. It can contribute to equitable development and a path to strengthening communities in conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

What’s more, global market demand for responsible gold continues to grow, including “green” gold that is mercury-free.

That’s why IMPACT designed this approach to environmental stewardship:

Step 1: Empower local communities to acknowledge and understand the environmental impacts of their mining activities, including how these may differ for women and men

Step 2: Build capacity within local communities to take action to reduce those environmental impacts

Our Just Gold project shows the positive results this approach can yield for women and men artisanal gold miners and their communities.

Launched in 2015 in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ituri Province, Just Gold is the first initiative to successfully trace conflict-free and legal artisanal gold from mine site to export while applying regional and international standards applicable to conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Thanks to support and technical assistance provided through Just Gold, 1,000 participating miners sold 24 kg of traceable gold onto the international market between 2017-2019.

What’s more, the project has a direct impact on miners’ understanding and empowerment to mitigate environmental harms proactively.

Based on our expert technical assessments, IMPACT collaborates with local actors to implement mining approaches, equipment support, and training to reduce the negative impact of ASM on the environment while improving mine site productivity and miners’ health and safety.

Examples of how this process has proven successful include:
  • Upon identifying a lack of knowledge about environmental impacts, we provided training that led to 81% of miners now understanding how mining harms the environment.
  • Upon identifying a loss in biodiversity from mining practices and former mine sites left as dangerous open pits, we provided training on geology, prospecting, and mine rehabilitation planning that led to the backfilling of over 20 abandoned mining pits and the planting of more than 7,700 trees in nurseries.
  • Upon identifying a high use of mercury at mine sites, we provided training that led to the installation of two amalgamation houses and two mercury-free processing plants; with increased awareness, 100% of women miners and 83% of men miners now use the dedicated spots.
  • Upon identifying that local water is contaminated due to improper mineral washing and mine site waste disposal, we provided training that led to the creation of dedicated washing centres and tailings disposal areas in two mining sites.
  • Upon identifying significant risks to miners’ health and occupational safety, we provided training that led to increased awareness of and access to personal protective equipment and two wet processing plants that reduce dust/air pollution.
Environmental stewardship is an important contributor to sustainable development and peace in ASM communities.

IMPACT is proud that initiatives like Just Gold are contributing to global conversations about how the negative environmental impacts of resource extraction can be reduced while empowering local communities in important ways.

Read and share our new brochure on Environmental Stewardship.

Learn more about the Just Gold project.