CSF is a Finalist for Conservation X Labs’ Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge

CSF is a Finalist for Conservation X Labs’ Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge

CSF’s Mining Impact Calculator has been selected as one of 13 finalists for the Conservation X Labs’ Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge: The Amazon

With funding support from Microsoft, USAID, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Esri, this Challenge aims to support  innovators to develop and implement solutions that address the environmental and social costs of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in the Amazon.

We are honored to be a part of this challenge, and have applied with the support and recommendations of our partners The Nature Conservancy Ecuador and the Fundación Paisajes Sostenibles. Our collaboration with these partners will help ensure the dissemination of our Mining Impact Calculator across Ecuador. 


About 85% of Ecuador’s gold production comes from the ASGM sector, amounting to more than seven tons of gold produced every year (Arcom, 2019; Ministry of Mines, 2016). There is a lack of evidence-based information on the socio-environmental costs of illegal Artisanal and Small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in the Amazon region, and because of this, there are limits to a country’s ability to regulate mining activities and safeguard communities from the environmental threats of ASGM. 

Our Solution 

CSF’s Mining Impact Calculator instantly calculates the socio-economic impacts of ASGM operations based on information such as gold mining type, pit depth, gold extraction productivity, population density, and per capita income. Our final value takes into account the damage generated by deforestation, siltation in rivers and the worsening of water quality, contamination of the environment by mercury and its consequences on human health. 

Although prohibited since 2015, mercury use is still common and it is estimated that about 1,76 kgs of mercury are used for every kg of gold mined in the country (Velasquez-Lopez, 2010). The negative human health consequences of mercury have a serious economic impact, and should be factored into regulation policies of AGSM across the region. 

This Calculator can be used as a tool to estimate the extent of environmental damage caused by artisanal gold mining, the severity of damage to the health of individuals contaminated by mercury and, consequently, can contribute to the application of fines to environmental violators. 

Ecuador and Beyond

CSF will adapt our landmark Mining Impacts Calculator for use in Ecuador and engage new users in the country to equip them with information and tools to guide smarter decisions and more sustainable investments in the ASGM sector.

We plan to scale up the development and use of the Mining Impact Calculator in other Amazonian countries, beginning with Ecuador, to provide this region of the world with a reliable economic online tool to measure the socio-environmental costs of ASGM activities. 

Protecting the communities in and around the Amazon, and the biodiversity of the region itself could not be more important as the world addresses the climate crisis, and we are proud to be included as innovators in this Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge: The Amazon.