Regulation of artisanal small scale gold mining (ASGM) in Ghana and Indonesia as currently implemented fails to adequately protect aquatic ecosystems
Artisanal small scale gold mining (ASGM) operations are largely unregulated, informal and transient. Rudimentary mining and processing techniques used in ASGM often result in degraded environmental, safety, health and social conditions. ASGM requires permanent sources of water, placing most operations close to natural water bodies. Until recently, the impact on these environments has been largely overlooked, with most studies focussing primarily on mercury contamination and health concerns. Based on Ghanaian and Indonesian experiences, regulation of ASGM is a good step toward improvement, but here we argue that regulation alone is insufficient to improve environmental performance, particularly when the impacts of ASGM on aquatic ecosystems are largely unknown.