ASGM Tailings Management and Reprocessing Governance

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is a significant economic sector, employing 20 million people across 80 countries and producing up to 20% of the world’s gold supply. The report underscores the urgent need for governments to prioritize responsible ASGM tailings management, particularly the disposal of hazardous materials like mercury that pose significant risks to human health and the environment.

This report first outlines important technical aspects of ASGM, including ore extraction, processing, tailings generation, management, and reprocessing. It also addresses mercury recovery, management, and disposal. Then, the authors examine existing governance frameworks, including guidelines from the United Nations Environment Program. This is followed by recommendations for policy-makers to improve awareness, education, safety, and regulation of ASGM tailings.

Key findings include the need for comprehensive international, regional, and national frameworks for ASGM to promote tailings management and reprocessing. Additionally, it highlights the potential benefits of collaboration between ASGM and large-scale mining sectors, formalization schemes aligned with Sustainable Development Goals, taxation and fiscal incentives, strategic environmental assessments, mercury-free alternatives, and mainstreaming gender-related concerns in tailings management and reprocessing approaches.

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