Mongolia learns from Columbia and Ecuador's experience in artisanal and small-scale mining supply chain
Since 2005, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) have been implementing Sustainable Artisanal Mining (SAM) project. The project aims to improve legal environment for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) supply chain and to support exchange of international knowledge and experience. As part of this work, SDC supported the Mongolian government to conduct a study tour to Colombia and Ecuador to learn from best practices and lessons learned on formalizing ASM supply chain between May 19-30, 2018.
Study team from Mongolia consisted of Messrs. S.Byambatsogt, A.Sukhbat, and L.Enkhbold, members of the Parliament, and officials from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Agency, Mongol Bank, Precious Metal Assay Inspection Department, Governor of Bayankhongor aimag, ASM National Federation and SAM Project.
Led by Mr. S.Byambatsogt, the Mongolian delegates visited and held meetings with all key stakeholders in the gold supply chain including Ministry of Mining and Energy of Colombia, National Mining Agency, Ministry of Trade and Industry, National Mining Association, Tri Cargo, a gold exporter, and Alloy, a gold refiner. Colombia, which produces 40 tons of gold per year, has liberalized its gold trading. All activities of gold supply chain including assaying, refining, buying and exporting are done by Colombian private sector which is very different from Mongolia.
Mr. Carlos Cante, Vice Minister of Mining of Colombia, who received the Mongolian delegates, introduced their efforts and activities to formalise ASM sector and improve transparency of supply chain. He said, "Colombia has taken a number of measures to develop the mineral sector. There are successes and lessons to be learnt. There are also many other things that we need to learn from other countries. We are working on the formalisation of the supply chain, registration and transparency of the gold supply system, particularly an online registration system. The use of this system is crucial for preventing illegal gold mining to enter the formal supply chain and promoting transparent source of the gold”. The country is aiming to have a transparent gold supply chain by 2021 which is in line with the European Union’s Conflict Minerals Law which will become effective in 2021.
After studying Colombia's experience, the Mongolian delegates then travelled to Ecuador and met with Ministry of Mines, Central Bank, National Institute of Geology, Mining and Metallurgy and visited Technical University and remote ASM site.
Ecuadorian Central bank purchases gold for its reserve which is similar to Mongolia’s current system. However, the Country also allows large producers to export their gold to international markets. Additionally, the Central Bank is piloting a gold purchase in local ASM area which is what Mongolia is currently implementing.
Mr. Henry Troya Figueroa, Vice minister of Mines of Ecuador, presented the Mining Policy of the Ecuadorian Government, ASM formalization efforts and challenges from the government perspective. Ecuador is implementing projects to support artisanal miners to improve their mining operation, occupational health and safety through its National Institute of Geology, Mining and Metallurgy.
The delegates then visited province of Loja, a key mining region in Ecuador. In Loja, the delegates learned about work and activities of Technical University of Loja on providing trainings to local residents to improve their capacity and facilitate them to employment opportunities in the industrial mining. The tour was concluded by visiting the Nambija ASM site where the delegates met with local artisanal miners’ group who are working hard to organize and formalize their operations and improve their responsibilities.