Ghana kick-starts a project to advance formalization and mercury-free gold production

February 15, 2023

Small scale mining in Ghana

Photo @ IIED


Ghana is Africa’s largest gold producer, and the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector directly employs an estimated one million people and supports about 4.5million people’s livelihoods. However, most of these miners in Ghana operate informally.

To support Ghana’s efforts to ensure inclusive and responsible mining, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the UN Environment and the Conservation International begins implementation of a new project referred to as planetGold+. The project, which is part of a global initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is seeking to make small-scale gold mining safer, cleaner, and more profitable​.

We want to ensure a cleaner and safer small-scale mining by reducing mercury use and also formalize the sector to advance responsible small-scale mining”, Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Executive Director of EPA stated at the project inception workshop.

The project is seeking to advance the formalization of the sector and improve access to finance and accelerate the creation of responsible mineral supply chains. The planetGold+ Ghana project is also aiming at enhancing the uptake of mercury-free technologies and investing in knowledge management, communications, and local capacity building.

Transforming and improving the productivity in this sector using greener technology and strengthening the value chain will help address the current strain on our forest landscapes, protected areas and inland waterways. UNDP is proud to be working with partners on this project”, noted Angela Lusigi, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana.

The project, titled "Advancing formalization and mercury-free gold in Ghana" is expected to help protect human health and the global environment, per the objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, by minimizing the risks posed by mercury use in the Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) sector. It will also strengthen capacity to enhance Ghana's compliance with the Minamata Convention in accordance with its national environmental and formalization policies.

"The effective implementation of this project will not only safeguard the environment, especially those around mining communities but will also boost Ghana's global trade in Gold", said Mr Oluyomi Banjo, National Programme Coordinator - Environment and Energy of the UNIDO Regional Hub in Nigeria.

The project will be implemented over five years (2022 to 2027), with the overall vision of contributing to a clean global supply of gold from small-scale miners.​

Participants at the planetGold+Ghana project launch. From extreme right sitting in front are Mr Oluyomi Banjo (UNIDO National Programme Coordinator), Angela Lusigi (UNDP Ghana Resident Representative) and Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu (EPA Executive Director).

Photo @Praise Nutakor/UNDP