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The Effect of Changing Gold Prices on Artisanal Mining

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Over the past year as the price of gold has fallen, many have asked how artisanal miners will be affected. Some have speculated that the drop in the price of gold would lead to less artisanal mining activity - as it has for the industrial gold mining sector. But this is not generally the case. On the contrary, in many places it continues to grow. And this has also been true historically. Even through the 1990's when the gold price descended to levels 4 or 5 times lower than today's, artisanal mining persisted and continued without any significant contraction.
For the majority of artisanal miners there is simply no other job that pays anywhere near as much
A falling gold price may slow the growth in artisanal mining but rarely leads to the kind of reductions and contractions that are symptomatic of the formal large scale mining and gold exploration businesses. In large part this is because the wages earned by artisanal miners are much greater than their rural agricultural alter…

Mercury Recycling in Artisanal Gold Mining: The Good and the Bad

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The promotion of simple mercury recycling technologies called retorts to reduce human exposures and environmental contamination is one of the most widely recommended interventions in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities. However if they aren't introduced correctly, retorts are often abandoned or misused, which wastes resources and develops cynicism from miners, prevents reduction of environmental contamination, and in some casesactually increases mercury exposures.

Retorts are relatively simple devices that condense and collect the mercury vapour released from heating gold mercury amalgam. The collection and capture of mercury is important to reduce both the amount of mercury contamination released into the air and to reduce direct human exposure. There are many different types of retorts – from simple kitchen bowl retorts made from a series of bowls purchased from the local market, to custom welded retorts with water-cooled condensers. Retorts are relatively …

Historical and Modern Government Responses to Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining

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Modified from: Telmer K. and Persaud A. (2013) Historical and Modern Government Responses to Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining. Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) and the International Bar Association, Special Institute on International Mining and Oil & GasLaw, Development, and Investment, Cartagena, Colombia, April 22-24, 2013.
Summary
Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is an industry that has existed for millennia. But the most important periods (simply by production volume) are the two phases: (1) the 19th century gold rushes - roughly 1849 to 1929 (80 years), and (2) the modern ongoing gold rush – roughly 1970 to present with a big kick in 1980, (40 years and continuing). The earlier phase primarily took place in English or former English colonies described as “liberal democracies”[1] (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) and played a key role in the economic development and the evolution of governance systems in these countries. The mo…