How We Work

El Dorado Gold

© Pete Oxford

Charting the future of Guyana’s artisanal, small and medium-scale gold mining sector


For over 100 years, Guyana’s artisanal, small and medium-scale gold mining sector has sustained livelihoods, bolstered the nation’s coffers and contributed to development. The gold sector is the main source of employment and revenue for hinterland communities, and provides direct employment for over 18,000 persons.

However, current mining practices cause some environmental problems. In particular, deforestation and mercury contamination are issues which need to be addressed.

CI is supporting Guyana to pursue a green model of development and implement initiatives to ensure the protection and sustainable management of its natural resources. This includes switching to mercury-free mining and adopting alternative mining practices which place less pressure on forests.

The two pronged initiative aims to catalyze the move to mercury-free mining and encourage targeted as opposed to blind mining by working with actors at all stages of the gold production process to devise solutions that foster responsible mining and improves the productivity and profitability of the industry.

With gold accounting for 15% of GDP and generating over 60% of Guyana’s foreign exchange earnings over the last few years, the sector is a key pillar of the economy. However, the global trade in mercury is on the decline as the demand for responsibly mined gold rises. Mercury also poses significant health risks as well as contributes to deforestation and land degradation. Blind mining also contributes to deforestation as well as wasting the resources of small and medium scale miners.

This is a holistic project that engages actors at all stages of the process – from the source to the markets. We demonstrate and transfer the relevant technologies and techniques, support access to finance for miners to use these tools, work with the private sector to create a market for responsibly produced gold, work with the government on policy support for responsibly mined gold and raise awareness about the dangers of mercury mining.

What we are

El Dorado Gold is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). Both initiatives promote the adoption of environmentally friendly approaches to mining in Guyana’s artisanal, small and medium-scale gold mining sector, with two different focuses.

The GEF Component

The GEF component of El Dorado Gold seeks to guide the switch to mercury-free mining.

The NORAD Component

The NORAD component addresses unnecessary deforestation by encouraging targeted mining through best practice prospecting methods.


We work with multiple partners on this project including:

  • Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Guyana Geology and Mines Commission
  • Guyana Women Miners Organization
  • Ministry of Natural Resources
  • National Toshaos’ Council