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The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) first developed a guidance document on artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) in 2011, entitled Guidance Document: Developing a National Strategic Plan to Reduce Mercury Use in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (UNEP 2011). The document was prepared to assist governments with the development of national strategic plans to improve practices and working conditions in ASGM communities and to reduce mercury, and where feasible eliminate, use, emissions and releases from the sector. The development of National Strategic Plans was pilot-tested in the Philippines and Cambodia and the 2011 guidance document reflects the experiences in those countries.
This document represents an expansion of this original guidance document and is intended to reflect the language of the Convention and other advances in understanding of the ASGM sector. It is intended to provide guidance to countries informulating ASGM National Action Plans (NAPs) that are compliant with the requirements of the Minamata Convention.The document also provides technical, legal and policy information on issues related to ASGM, which may be useful when preparing and implementing the NAP. This guidance is indicative – the use of this document is not mandatory or a requirement under the Convention.
The mandate for the development of this document comes from the Final Act of the Minamata Convention, which called on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury (INC) to support the development of guidance to countries in preparing their NAPs. A proposal for the development of a guidance document based on the UNEP 2011 document was presented at the
INC’s 6th meeting. The proposal was accepted by the INC as a basis for the development of this guidance document for consideration at the INC’s 7th meeting.
The initial draft guidance document was circulated to members of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership and INC focal points for comment. Inputs were also provided by the World Health Organization on relevant health aspects. This document reflects consideration of the comments received on the initial draft. At its first meeting, the Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention agreed to the use of this guidance on the preparation of NAPs. This guidance may be further revised at the request of the Conference of the Parties. The document has been developed by members of the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership, ASGM Partnership Area with financial support from UNEP and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The document was drafted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Biodiversity Research Institute, with significant contributions from an international panel of experts from the Artisanal Gold Council, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UNEP, Cordy Geosciences, U.S. State Department, USEPA, and BanToxics.