• Thirty million artisanal and small-scale miners worldwide use rudimentary tools to extract gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten, coal, diamonds, coloured gemstones and more than 20 other minerals.
  • Some 15 to 16 million are mining for gold, and up to five million are women and children.
  • Artisanal mining occurs in 70 countries, including Canada, but mainly in Africa, South America and Asia.
  • Artisanal gold miners are responsible for 12 to 15 per cent of the world’s gold supply.
  • Artisanal gold miners use mercury to make amalgam, then burn it to extract the gold, releasing mercury into the air.
  • According to the United Nations, the artisanal and small-scale gold-mining sector is the largest contributor (37 per cent) of global mercury emissions to the atmosphere.
  • Canada is the world’s secondlargest mercury exporter.

Author

  • Kylie Williams is AME's Director, Communications and Member Relations. She is an accomplished geologist, communications professional and award-winning writer specializing in earth science, technology, business, and responsible resource development.