Title: Artisanal Gold Mining in Senegal, West Africa - The Reduction of Environmental Mercury Emissions Using Improved Technology and Training Office of International Affairs
Abstract: Approximately a quarter of the world’s gold supply comes from artisanal or small scale gold mining. It is also a significant source of mercury release into the environment in the developing world. Miners combine mercury with gold to form an amalgam. The amalgam is heated over an open flame to burn off the mercury, and gold is left at a purity of 70 to 80 percent. Mercury amalgamation results in 30% of the world’s anthropogenic mercury releases, affecting up to 15 million miners, including 4.5 million women and 600,000 children.
We are promoting the use of simple and cost-effective retorts to capture and reuse mercury during the mercury burn-off stage. The use of this technology will decrease the occupational exposure to mercury, its release into the environment, and its harm to communities and public health. This project was implemented in Senegal in 2006 to introduce miners to this retort technology.
Wendy M. Graham, EPA