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Microscopy and certification as tools for environmentally benign, mercury-free small-scale gold mining.
Uppsala University, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences. Uppsala University, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Air and Water Science. Luft- och vattenlära (LUVA).
2006 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, no 368, 371-383 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Small-scale gold miners lose annually 500–700 tonnes of mercury when amalgamating gold with mercury and subsequent burning. So far, mercury-free alternatives have been demanding more skill, time, or capital investments and the interest from the miners to reduce the mercury emissions has been limited. Recent development of mercury free methods, an increasing mercury price, and increased awareness of health and environmental damages caused by mercury is changing the attitudes. This trend could be spurred by certification of gold with added value due to clean production methods. Our objectives are to present a method to distinguish gold recovered without using mercury or harmful chemicals such as cyanide. Thereby, this gold could be certified and thus obtain a higher market price. The method is based on inspection of the gold grain surfaces with a light microscope. This method separated natural gold grains from gold recovered by amalgamation or cyanidation. The method also demonstrated different characteristics of gold grains from different gold fields and a basis for a catalogue with photomicrographs of gold grains from different gold fields has been established and partly presented in this article. In conclusion, studies of gold grains with a light microscope and photo documentation is an inexpensive but reliable method to distinguish environment-friendly recovered gold, which could be used for certification to get a higher market price.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. no 368, 371-383 p.
Keyword [en]
Certification of environmentally benign gold; Light microscopy; Mercury-free small-scale gold mining; Photomicrographs
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-82981OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-82981DiVA: diva2:110888
Available from: 2007-01-19 Created: 2007-01-19 Last updated: 2011-01-11

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