Mongolian officials explore ASM practices in South America

Mongolian government representatives experienced first-hand the best practices and lessons learned by their South American counterparts in the formalisation of the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector as part of a May study to Colombia and Ecuador.

The 11-day tour from May 19-30, organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) Project, enabled Members of Parliament S. Byambatsogt, A. Sukhbat, and L. Enkhbold, along with delegates from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Agency, Bank of Mongolia, the Precious Metal Assay Inspection Department, the ASM National Federation, the Bayankhongor aimag governor and the SAM Project, to meet with key stakeholders in the gold supply chain in both countries, and tour local mine sites.

Colombia, which produces 40 tonnes of gold per year, has liberalised its gold trading; however, unlike Mongolia, all activities within the gold supply chain, including assaying, refining, buying and exporting, are conducted by the private sector.

Addressing the Mongolian delegation, Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Mines Carlos Cante said the country had undertaken a series of measures to help develop the minerals sector, with the aim of having a transparent gold supply chain in place by 2021 - a target that is aligned with the European Union’s Conflict Minerals Law that will come into effect in the same year.

“We are working on the formalisation of the supply chain, registration, and the transparency of the gold supply system, particularly an online registration system.” Mr Cante said. “The use of this system is crucial in preventing illegal gold mining from entering the formal supply chain, and in promoting transparent sources of gold”.

In Ecuador, the Mongolian delegation met with representatives from the Ministry of Mines, the Central Bank, and the National Institute of Geology, Mining and Metallurgy, and visited a technical university and a remote ASM site.

Like Mongolia, Ecuador’s Central Bank buys gold for its reserve; however, it also allows larger producers to export their gold to international markets. In addition, the Central Bank is piloting the purchase of gold from local ASM sites - a practice also currently undertaken in Mongolia.

Ecuador’s Vice-Minister of Mining Henry Troya Figueroa detailed the country’s national mining policy and its ASM formalisation efforts and the challenges that were faced. Mr Figueroa said the National Institute of Geology, Mining and Metallurgy was implementing a number of projects to improve mining operations and occupational health and safety.

In Loja province, a key mining region in Ecuador, delegates were shown the capacity building training being conducted at the Technical University of Loja to help local residents land jobs in the mining sector, before visiting the Nambija ASM gold-mining site to meet with miners who are organising and formalising their operations, and improving their mining practices.