Health and Environmental Issues and Solutions

By advancing technology, business practices, governance and policy, the Artisanal Gold Council helps to improve the environment and health of the millions of people involved in ASGM worldwide.

The three pillar approach of the AGC
Mercury use, water consumption, and dust and wastewater management are the main environmental and health concerns associated with ASGM. At many artisanal gold mining sites, miners and their families are susceptible to inhaling both mercury vapour and silica dust, which can cause serious and often irreversible health problems. 

Although the environmental and health issues in ASGM are of serious concern, both can easily be mitigated through education, improved processes and best practices

A ball mill with wet processing keeps silica dust down and helps to recycle water used.

To alleviate health hazards, the AGC:
·               Provides seminars to local health professionals on how to identify and treat health issues that are specific to the ASGM sector, such as exposure to dust and mercury intoxication.
·               Promotes the use of wet milling techniques to suppress and mitigate dust exposure
·               Provides training to miners and processers on the health issues related to ASGM and measures that should be taken to protect their and their family’s health
·               Works with governments around the world to develop national public health strategies to address mercury exposure from ASGM activities
·               Promotes the adoption and use of personal protective equipment at mine sites
·               Has developed research guidelines and tools including surveys and questionnaires which can be used to:
o   Conduct rapid health assessments in mining communities
o   Assess the capacity of local and regional health institutions to deal with health issues related to ASGM

This shaking table separates gold from other minerals without the use of mercury.

To mitigate the environmental impacts, the AGC:
·               Provides access to simple and intuitive mercury-free processing equipment
.               Designs environmental management strategies that can be used by mining communities to reduce the impact of ASGM activities on the environemtn and monitor outcomes
·               Promotes the use of water recycling in processing techniques and workflows
·               Works with governments around the world to develop strategies to promote the reduction of emissions and releases to the environment of mercury, as part of their Minamata Convention commitments


  1. New trend: CIL in ASGM in Eastern DRC
    There is a growing trend of ASGM CIL plants in Eastern DRC by a new breed of dare-devil entrepreneurs taking advantage of the region's governance challenges; expertise comes from Tanzania. It has increased demand from locals that industrial miners go and leave them alone to exploit their own resources with apparently more efficient CIL technology. In Misisi it has led to extremely violent actions against exploration companies which have Gov-granted licenses.

    These dodgy CIL plants which spring up like mushrooms dont comply with environmental norms are an additional threat to already imperilled Congo bassin ecosystems. These determined and defiant fly-by-night operators, who are not registered with any international regulatory body, are also security threat to the whole region as they incite people to expel industrial title holders to guarantee access to raw materials. In 6 years they have spread from Misisi/Fizi/South Kivu, where they were pioneered, to Tanganyika...To-day there is probably 15 of them and the number is growing.


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The Artisanal Gold Council is a registered non-profit organization that improves the environmental and economic sustainability of artisanal and small scale gold mining communities.

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