Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to open the Forum on Responsible Artisanal Mining. This event presents, once again, the Sustainable Artisanal Mining project implemented during the last 14 years by the Swiss Development Cooperation, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry. Thanks to this project, artisanal miners, once held in the margin of society, transformed into responsible artisanal miners. Today, they are socially accepted and recognized for their contribution to the development of local communities, and to the economic prosperity of localities. This journey was not easy, but we are proud to witness so many positive changes at this event today.
After more than a decade’s work, artisanal mining is integrated in the Mongolia’s State Policy Framework of Minerals Sector (2015), the Law on Minerals (2014), the Government Action Plan 2016 – 2020, and the Gold II Program of the Government of Mongolia (2017). The Artisanal Mining Regulation (no. 151) regulates the land access, the coordination among government institutions, the ASM land rehabilitation, as well as occupational health and safety measures that are beneficial to the artisanal miners. The SAM project introduced the mercury-free ASM gold processing technology, and this technology served as an example to the ASM article 7 of the Minamata Convention to reduce mercury use globally. In order to repair environmental damages to the land, SDC introduced the Frugal Rehabilitation Method.
The concrete results of the SAM project translate into achievements at individual, institutional and policy levels. As of today, the average annual income of formalised ASM miners increased by 40% in the last 5 years. In 2019, it reached 9.6 million Tugrik (9,600,000 MNT). Artisanal miners have an umbrella federation, the National Federation of Mongolian Artisanal Miners, which has branches in most provinces where ASM communities are present. In 2019, the aimag [aïmag] branches of this Federation reached a total of eight thousand, three hundred and ninety six (8,396) people. Among them, a majority were women (male 47%; female 53%). It is also a reality, that there remain challenges for the ASM, such as the identification of legalised channels for ASM mineral supply chains, the reform of the taxation system, and the enforcement of regulations at local level.
SDC Switzerland believes that the Mongolian ASM sector has the necessary sustainability elements so that we can exit from our project. We are sure, that the Mongolian stakeholders will carry on the good practices of the project as a natural part of their functions and work.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The stakeholders gathered for today’s forum are representatives of all aspects of artisanal mining. They come from the mining sector to the human rights commission to individual artisanal miners. We are all together in this journey of formalizing the artisanal mining. This process will evolve along Mongolia’s development and continues to improve the sector for betterment. I hope that while reflecting on the past results, all of us also take this event as an opportunity to look towards the future, and to consult, and exchange on the way ahead, with all the concerned stakeholders.
Thank you for your attention,
Mr. Bernardino Regazzoni
Ambassador of Switzerland to the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea