Education for the Transformation of Artisanal to Small-scale Mining, Ecuador (TransMAPE)



Focus Area

Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement




sustainable development goals


$700,000 CAD


Global Affairs Canada

Who Benefits


Ecuador Vice Ministry of Mines

Small-scale miners in Ponce Enriquez and Portovelo-Zaruma



Mining communities

Delivery Partners

Ecuador Vice Ministry of Mines

The Challenge

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the primary source of gold production in Ecuador, accounting for 85 per cent of total national production. Ecuador ranks fourth in Latin America in both estimated gold production and total number or artisanal and small-scale gold miners. The Government of Ecuador has prioritized formalizing and professionalizing the sector to maximize its benefits while addressing the environmental and social challenges associated with ASGM. In keeping with Ecuador’s 2009 Mining Law Chapter II on Small Scale Mining, the Vice Ministry focused on a two-pronged approach: legalize and educate. The Vice Ministry’s commitment to small-scale mining includes promoting special technical assistance programs, environmental management, mining safety, and training and professional education.

CIRDI's Approach

CIRDI’s approach prioritized education as an essential entry point for better organization and formalization of the ASM sector. This methodology was aligned with Ecuador’s Vice Ministry of Mines strategy for the transformation of the sector, which includes an emphasis on technical training and education for both miners and regulators. As part of the TransMAPE project, CIRDI worked closely with the Government of Ecuador through the Vice Ministry of Mines on developing a long-term education and training program that blended Canadian and Ecuadorian technical expertise and experience to contribute, through education, to the development of a more socially and environmentally responsible small-scale mining sector.

Project Details

Through data collection, consultative dialogue and pilot training modules, the project worked collaboratively with Ecuadorian counterparts to develop a locally appropriate ASM training program, and an inter-ministerial action plan to scale-up pilot training activities. The project focused on the adaptive and participatory methodology by engaging stakeholders at both the national and local levels and responding to local needs. The four key project components included:

  1. Applied research
  • On locally-appropriate gold recovery processes to eliminate mercury use;
  • On key leverage points for improving current tailings management practices;
  • On the role of Ecuador’s National Research Institute on Geology, Mining and Metallurgy in supporting the ASM sector.
  1. Multi-stakeholder consultation for training program design
  • Identifying socio-economic dynamics of target mining communities;
  • Participatory training model design.
  1. Pilot training
  • Locally-appropriate gold recovery processes to eliminate mercury use;
  • Leverage points for improving current tailings management practices.
  1. Sustainable action planning
  • Political sustainability;
  • Fiscal sustainability;
  • Technical sustainability.

Cross-cutting Themes


  • The project measured gender-disaggregated impacts for vulnerable groups such as women and children to ensure gender-specific issues were addressed in educational design and to ensure equitable access to education, resources, and opportunities. In Ecuador’s ASM community, there is considerable participation by women in roles related to the administration and commercialization of minerals. However, women gold waste rock recyclers (jancheras) do not have a clear role in the ASM cycle. Hence, they are exploited and marginalized; their participation and income levels are well below their male counterparts. For this reason, TransMAPE helped to:
    • Increase the understanding of women recyclers’ role through their inclusion as a key stakeholder in the project;
    • Raise awareness of the difficulties they face in order to incentivize government officials to develop a public-policy framework that supports the fair and safe employment of women in the sector and;
    • Implement an Economic Diversification Workshop with a group of 30 women gold recyclers. The goal of the workshop was to provide women with resources to transition into alternative paths for sustainable economic empowerment should they choose to leave the mining, or to enter into “horizontal” industries that service the sector.


  • The key objective of the project was to develop mercury-free gold recovery techniques in collaboration with the Vice Ministry, UTMACH, and IIGE. The pilot courses developed and implemented with ASM miners emphasized strategies to reduce mercury use in the ASGM sector. The project gathered information, conducted an environmental assessment, and enhanced the policy capacity of government authorities by providing informed, evidence-based information, in regards to the use of mercury in the sector. This information is important to build policies to create a sustainable ASGM sector.


  • This project worked directly with the Vice Ministry of Mines and its research and regulatory institutions to help them fulfill their mandate under the 2009 Mining Law. During the project, CIRDI demonstrated the importance of having an inter-institutional approach to the implementation of natural resources governance.

Project Activities


  • Developed partnership with the Alliance for Responsible Mining to conduct the ASGM stakeholder analysis, supply chain mapping, and educational needs assessment of target regions.
  • Educational needs assessment report and gap analysis completed and distributed to key government authorities.
  • Developed methodology for the participatory assessment of current gold-recovery processes and tailings management techniques in target regions.
  • Designed curriculum and learning strategies focused on reducing the use of mercury in the ASGM sector.
  • Organized and delivered three “Gold Dialogues” in Ponce Enriquez, Zaruma, and Quito in July 2018. A total of 77 (25 women and 52 men) ASGM stakeholders participated in a consultative dialogue with the government, miners, processors, and other ASGM stakeholders, in order to identify immediate training needs.
  • Increased access to information on the realities of ASGM operations and impacts in target areas, Portovelo-Zaruma and Ponce Enriquez through the production and dissemination of knowledge (Fellowship report, ASGMI report, ASGM Sampling analysis report, Technical report on fellowship-capacitation about metallurgical processes)
  • Helped organize an international workshop for representatives from 14 countries to share information, data, and experiences on the role of geological surveys and the use of geological data in the management and governance of ASGM. The main achievement of the meeting included a regional declaration for collaboration on ASM across the region.

Project Impact

  • Increased collection and use of the ASGM data to inform better decision-making regarding the training interventions in Portovelo-Zaruma and Ponce Enriquez regions.
  • Improved integration into national objectives of an evidence-based training program for Southern Ecuador, developed to build stakeholders’ capacity in environmentally sound, safe, and economically efficient mining practices.
  • Reached a minimum of 40 government officials across three ministries for capacity building and 200 miners through pilot training modules. During the implementation of the project, CIRDI established solid relationships with the Vice-Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Environment, Technical Secretariat (SETEC), and the Institute of Geological and Energy Research (IIGE). By the end of the project, these government institutions had demonstrated their commitment to improving policies that can provide an evidence-based training program for Southern Ecuador and that are aimed towards building capacity to enact environmentally sound and economically efficient mining practices.

project team


updates and news

TransMAPE Project Report

  Since 2016, The Canadian International Resources and Development Insitute was working with the government of Ecuador to support the sustainable development of the artisanal and small-scale mining sector. In […]

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Social Learning in the Context of Small-scale Gold Mining. Q & A with Dr. Gerald Fallon

The Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI), strategically located at UBC, recognizes the value of academia-government-industry engagement and its ability to ensure that new knowledge is applicable and available […]

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