Uganda has kicked off a project to reduce use mercury in mining. The dubbed “planetGOLD Uganda project” targets in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
The five-year project will be implemented by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and funded by Global Environment Facility. It will be executed by the international non-profit organization, IMPACT in partnership with Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the country’s Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM). The Ugandan project is part of a global program similarly implemented in 23 countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes, as well as pose a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining according to data are ranked as world’s largest source of anthropogenic emissions of mercury pollution.
In Uganda, the project plans to support 4,500 men and women at 11 mine sites in the country, reducing mercury use by 15 tonnes over five years. It will reduce the use of mercury by supporting formalization of the artisanal gold mining sector and increasing access to finance.
The project will improve the health and lives of local mining communities and further enhance adoption of mercury-free technologies that will allow access to more responsible and traceable gold supply chains.
“Artisanal gold mining is a critical source of livelihood for many in Uganda and an important opportunity for economic development. Through the planetGOLD Uganda project, miners will be introduced to solutions to the environmental and social challenges in the sector, helping to transition toward more responsible gold mining practices,” said Ludovic Bernaudat, Head of UNEP’s GEF Chemicals and Waste Portfolio.