Decontaminating Networks: Mercury Supply, Financial Flows and Informal Gold Mining in West Africa

Project Details


The purpose of this research is to map directional flows of mercury supplies in West African Artisanal and small scale mining networks, and to quantify the finances which circulate to the different actors who populate them. Across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), deliberate actions taken to eliminate mercury use at small-scale gold mines pose a serious threat to the wellbeing of tens of millions of the region’s rural families, an issue that has gone understudied in the literature. Through a multi-country program of research (Sierra Leone and Liberia) and stakeholder engagement, therefore, we seek to achieve the following:

1) To broaden understanding of the regulatory environment for mercury and the rationale behind the responses, in West African countries, to the Minamata Convention specifically.
2) To identify the key actors fuelling the distribution of mercury to ASM across sub-Saharan Africa, to broaden our understanding of the nature of the relationships between these actors and how they facilitate the distribution of mercury, and to ascertain the extent to which these dynamics have changed during the pandemic.
3) To map and attach a value to the directional flows of these supplies, with a view to unearthing details of the commerce it creates, and to reflect critically on how it affects the livelihoods of people engaged in ASM, the majority of whom pursue work in the sector because of personal hardship.
4) To broaden understanding of how the economy of mercury supply connects with the ASM sector, and the embeddedness of this symbiosis, and to estimate the value of the trade, locally.
5) To revisit the policy and donor dimension of the mercury pollution in ASM issue, with a view to engaging key decision-makers about its economic aspects.
Effective start/end date1/08/2131/01/23


  • International Growth Centre


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