Miners, Minerals and Minamata: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on ASGM and Sustainable Development

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October 26, 2017 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

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The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector represents the largest source of anthropogenic mercury emissions globally (UNEP, 2013). Despite known health and environmental impacts of mercury, it remains widely used in ASGM for gold recovery due to its ease of use, fast returns and its accessibility through informal trade networks. ASGM supports at least 20 million livelihoods, including more than 3 million women and children, and accounts for an estimated 15-30 per cent of global gold production (UNEP, 2013) and 80 per cent of all ASM activity for metals (excluding diamonds and gemstones). The artisanal mining of gold provides a significant income source for rural communities compared to agriculture, fishing or forestry (Siegel & Veiga, 2009), but has been traditionally viewed as a problem rather than a legitimate livelihood opportunity. Consequently, ASGM has received a smaller proportion of development aid relative to its contribution towards poverty alleviation in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. In recent decades, academic institutes, the United Nations and development agencies have promoted advancement of ASGM as a rural livelihood strategy. There is a growing body of literature and a focus on developing best practices to minimize adverse social and environmental impacts. Despite recent progress, complex challenges remain for scientists, practitioners, policy makers and for the bi-lateral and multi-lateral cooperation that aims to support miners in the reduction and eventual elimination of mercury use in ASGM at global, regional and local scales.

About Kirsten Dale

Kirsten Dales is CIRDI’s director of program development. She holds an MSc. in environmental management and is an expert in science-policy integration with nearly 10 years’ experience in artisanal and small-scale mining, multilateral environmental governance and global resource policy. With a strong technical background in natural science, Kirsten has served as a technical expert for the design, development and review of over 30 projects on international waters, chemicals and waste management, sustainable forests, land degradation, restoration ecology and climate change in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Mongolia, Russia, China, Iran, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Madagascar. She is an emerging authority on artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), supporting technical and resource policy issues for pre-ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN Environment program (UNEP) and UNESCO. She has held academic and research positions with Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of California Irvine, University of Calgary, Royal Roads University, The Asia Foundation, The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Liu Institute for Global issues, Yale’s Center for Industrial Ecology, the African Forest Research Initiative for Conservation and Development (AFRICAD), and the University of British Columbia. Kirsten provides strong leadership to CIRDI’s artisanal and small-scale mining portfolio, calling attention to issues related to environmental justice, gender equality, indigenous resource rights, post-conflict resource governance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

No RSVP required. Light refreshments will be provided.


October 26, 2017
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


Case Room, Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2 Canada
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