Ongoing field testing performed by the coalition of Mercury Free Mining (MFM) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) NGO discovered that the Goldrop processor possesses the greatest potential to eliminate the use of mercury in Artisanal mining.
Goldrop uses elutriation technology rather than mercury. This is a process for separating particles based on size, shape and density. It flows gas or liquid away from sedimentation to achieve gold separation.
Artisanal mining is a type of small-scale mining that involves the extraction of minerals and metals from the earth. Miners use simple tools such as picks, shovels, and pans to search for and extract gold from streams, rivers, and other sources.
It’s often informal and unregulated, and estimates from the World Health Organization put the number at over 15 million artisanal gold miners exposed to mercury poisoning each year due to the use of mercury in the extraction process.
Originally commissioned in 2021 after a grant from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) enabled ARM to launch a program with two Peruvian mining communities. The testing later expanded to include Ghana and Colombia.
The study’s goal is to analyze tools and processes with the best potential to eliminate mercury use in artisanal mining. MFM identified six processors. The testing examined each alternative in terms of cost, practical and output.
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Artisanal mining accounts for 20 per cent of global gold production
While the various processors produced a range of results, the Goldrop processor produced surprising and promising gold recovery rates across the ore types.
“At ARM, we are convinced that sustainable development is only possible from an inclusive perspective. ASM communities can be part of the solution when they have access to technological and training alternatives such as the ones we are developing together with MFM,” said ARM’s executive director, Gina D’Amato.
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) accounts for 20 per cent of gold production, according to the World Gold Council. However, because it exists in the informal economy, it’s difficult to get precise figures.
It occurs in around 70 countries and provides livelihoods for over 20 million people. It’s often driven by poverty, the lack of occupations in many rural areas, and pressures on land from population growth and climate change.
ASGM also accounts for almost 40 per cent of global mercury emissions and the pollution of air, soil and water-courses. This causes adverse health impacts for communities.
The research and processor testing will continue in San Antonio, a village of 500 people in Antioquia, Colombia, due to the political unrest in Peru. Analysis continues on San Antonio’s gold ore, as does efficiency testing for various processors in separating fine gold particles without mercury.
A more detailed analysis of the lab and field-testing phases will be released once testing is complete.
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