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Health and Artisanal Gold Mining

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By Dr. Paleah Moher, Human and Ecosystem Health, AGC
Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) presents a complex development and health-impact situation. On one hand it provides livelihoods to tens of millions people in the developing world while contributing significantly to the global supply of gold.  On the other hand ASGM is accompanied by serious environmental, social and health concerns. Here we discuss the health concerns and their solutions.
Generally sustainable solutions support the ASGM sector’s economy while also addressing the associated health problems. This can be realized through inexpensive safer mining practices that come along with increasing degrees of education and formalisation. Fortunately there are often economic incentives to drive such improvements.
Mercury is one of the main health concerns of ASGM. The use of mercury to amalgamate and extract metals from rock has been in practice for over 5000 years , mainly because it is a simple, expedient, and relativ…