Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) has become the world’s largest 'direct use' emitter of mercury to the environment. With over 10 million small scale gold miners operating in over 70 countries worldwide, a global strategy is required. This strategy will require reliable data and sound ideas, grounded in field work. Firstly, the distribution and details of ASGM and mercury-use must be understood. This information is needed by governments, agencies, and stakeholders to focus resources and commit to a mitigation strategies. With this website, HgWatch presents an important start to this process.
This site aims to be used: (a) as an open document for discussions with the ASGM community; (b) to encourage input from stakeholders; and (c) as an education and awareness vehicle. Currently, the site hosts a recent (2008) publication with up-to-date statistics and pertinent information regarding ASGM and mercury-use globally. This publication was written for UNEP; information sources include data from recent field campaigns, government and mining company reports, correspondence with field operatives and work done by NGO's. The searchable database is a companion to this report; it is a tool for searching data on mercury use, trade and statistics at the national level.
Recent meetings of the UNEP have solidified international resolve to reduce and remediate mercury pollution. At the same time, the ASGM sector and mercury-use within it, continue to grow. Not only is the breadth of society that interacts with ASGM much broader than is generally recognized, but if mercury use in the sector is left unchecked, this pollution will continue and affect global consequences. Helping the ASGM sector become aware of mercury hazards, more socio-economically sustainable and less detrimental to the environment is both critical and urgent. HgWatch is committed to these goals and is seeking partnerships to help. A preliminary action plan for ASGM in Indonesia can be viewed from the countries tab.
This is a beta site and remains under development.