September 19, 2017

Global drive to remove mercury from artisanal gold mining

An Artisanal miner in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A programme aimed at eliminating mercury from artisanal gold mining is being rolled out worldwide, and African countries, in which artisanal mining is a source of livelihood for many people, are amongst the beneficiaries.

The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC), a not-for-profit organisation based out of Victoria, BC, Canada dedicated to the sustainable development of ASGM communities in the developing world. The organisation works says: “We work directly with ASGM communities and local experts to find practical solutions that address the unique circumstances that exist in different locations around the world.”

Thus far, AGC says several African countries are benefitting from the initiative, amongst them, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ghana.

Artisanal miners are exposed to health hazards in their pursuit for ore bearing rock. And one of the main health hazards that the organisation identified is exposure to mercury.

According to the World Health Organisation factsheet, elemental and methylmercury are toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The inhalation of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal.

AGC has expertise in gold extraction, mercury science, and experience with miners in many countries over the past 15 years equip the AGC to provide technological, social, and policy solutions to implement field programs successfully.

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