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Origin of mercury in artisanal and 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). (Hylander)
2006 (English)In: J. of Cleaner Production., Vol. 14, 436-447 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Mercury (Hg) is used by small-scale gold miners in more than 50 developing countries, where the accompanied releases affect human health and the environment. The objectives of this paper are to summarize present use of Hg in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) worldwide, reveal the origin of part of the Hg used by the gold miners, and propose appropriate actions to reduce the resulting Hg emissions. Significant releases of mercury are associated with inefficient amalgamation techniques. Releases are estimated to range from 800 to 1000 tonne/annum. Of this total, approximately 200e250 tonne of Hg are released in China, 100e150 tonne in Indonesia, and 10e30 tonne each in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Philippines, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Mercury usually enters these countries legally e typically imported from countries in the European Union e although in some cases and in some years (e.g., Indonesia, Venezuela, etc.), the reported imports of Hg are far below estimated consumption. Meanwhile, the EU, while gradually replacing Hg products and processes with more environmentally benign alternatives, paradoxically continues to produce virgin Hg at government-owned mines, further exacerbating a general global oversupply of Hg e evident from its historically low market price. Political leadership is needed to avoid the transfer of excess Hg, and related health and environmental risks from the EU to third countries. Otherwise, the present situation will continue or even worsen, with no oversight or control of the global Hg trade in which the transfer of excess EU Hg to artisanal miners is favoured by low Hg prices relative to gold prices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 14, 436-447 p.
Keyword [en]
Artisanal gold mining; ASM; Mercury trade; Mercury emissions
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-83173OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-83173DiVA: diva2:111080
Available from: 2007-01-19 Created: 2007-01-19 Last updated: 2011-01-11

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