Showing posts from April, 2017

Mercury Use in the Guinean ASGM Sector

The ASGM sector in Guinea is vibrant, growing, and ripe with opportunity. If properly managed, it could create a much needed West African example of best practices in ASGM. The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) is engaged in a United Stated Department of State (USDoS) funded project focused on reducing mercury use in Francophone West Africa. The project currently is active in Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Guinea. Here we will discuss the interesting and unique approach to mercury use in Guinea, which differs from common practices seen in surrounding West African countries. Traditional gold concentration process using a calabash pan While traditional gold mining has occurred for centuries in Guinea, there has been significant growth in modern ASGM in recent years, including the introduction of mercury to amalgamate gold.  The Guinean ASGM sector is less developed (delayed) compared with the longer standing activities of surrounding countries (for example in Mali), and this is

Mercury Free Gold Processing

Using mercury amalgamation to separate gold particles from ore is not only dangerous to the health and environment of miners and their families but it is also inefficient. Recovery is an important aspect of efficiency in mining. It is a measurement of how much gold is split from the ore; how much gold goes to concentrate and how much goes to tailings. In Cholito, Peru at our mercury free processing and training centre, the initial rate of recovery that miners were able to extract through mercury amalgamation was 30%-40%. This means almost half of their gold was lost to tailings! A waste of the resource at a great harm to the planet.   (In comparison, most large scale gold mines maintain a recovery of over 98%.) One of the most prominent roles of the AGC is to assist miners to improve their processing techniques and eliminate their use of mercury. The mercury free processing and training systems installed by the AGC are intuitive and easy to use since they are composed of techno

Health and Environmental Issues and Solutions

By advancing technology, business practices, governance and policy, the Artisanal Gold Council helps to improve the environment and health of the millions of people involved in ASGM worldwide. The three pillar approach of the AGC Mercury use, water consumption, and dust and wastewater management are the main environmental and health concerns associated with ASGM. At many artisanal gold mining sites, miners and their families are susceptible to inhaling both mercury vapour and silica dust, which can cause serious and often irreversible health problems.  Although the environmental and health issues in ASGM are of serious concern, both can easily be mitigated through education, improved processes and best practices A ball mill with wet processing keeps silica dust down and helps to recycle water used. To alleviate health hazards, the AGC: ·                 Provides seminars to local health professionals on how to identify and treat health i

Minamata and NAPs

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013, is a world-wide treaty aimed at protecting human health and the environment from mercury’s harmful effects. As the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector is a major anthropogenic source of mercury release and environmental pollution, a specific article targets the sector in the treaty; as per Article 7, countries that are part of the Convention and determine that ASGM and processing are “more than insignificant” in their territory shall develop a National Action Plan (NAP) to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate the use of mercury and mercury compounds in the sector. The Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) is helping countries, such as Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Gabon, Laos PDR, Mali, Peru and Senegal, to elaborate their NAP, in collaboration with the national governments, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment (UN Environment) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO