Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is defined by the Minamata Convention on Mercury as ‘gold mining conducted by individual miners or small enterprises with limited capital investment and production’. This type of mining often uses liquid mercury which forms an amalgam with the gold ore in the soil. The very small particles of gold are dissolved into the mercury to form a dark grey clump. To release the gold from the amalgam, the alloy is melted over a flame, driving the gaseous mercury vapor into the air and leaving behind the extracted gold. It is estimated that ASGM produces up to 20% of the world’s gold and 35% of all mercury pollution into the environment. Gold mining using mercury is detrimental to the health of workers, their environment, and their communities but there are economic and social considerations that limit the implementation of mercury free mining technologies.Read More
Teledyne Leeman Labs Blog
As government, the scientific community, environmentalists, medical professionals and the public at large recognize the persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic nature of mercury, there is increasing demand for better control and monitoring of its release to the environment.