Research Shows Need to Consider Consequences of Mercury Mitigation Strategies in Artisanal Mining

New research has highlighted that it is important to focus on the effects of the interventions proposed to limit the use of mercury, which is considered to be a highly toxic pollutant, in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM). This conclusion is based on an analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Tokyo and Ritsumeikan University in Japan.

The researchers’ objective was to examine the possible unintended consequences of the strategies proposed to minimize emissions and the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining under the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The Minamata Convention, which was launched in 2017, is aimed at limiting and restricting the trading and use of mercury via various mid-term and long-term strategies.

Article 7 of this treaty is focused on dealing with the issue of mercury in ASGM. It highlights that party members have a duty to minimize or completely eliminate emissions and the use of mercury in activities like this in their borders. While many intervention strategies have been suggested and implemented, very little attention has been directed to the side effects that these strategies may have.

For their research, the investigators examined the effects of three strategies proposed by the United Nations Environment Program: using cyanide instead of mercury to extract gold, using a mercury retort, and the practice of concentrate amalgamation.

The investigators used mathematical models and data from 80 nations with ASGM to project the effects of these strategies on global emissions and the use of mercury up to 2050. They also forecasted the unintended consequences of these intervention strategies.

The investigators found that the concentrate amalgamation strategy didn’t lead to a substantial reduction in emissions or the use of mercury. This practice didn’t cause any significant negative side effects either.

Contrastingly, the use of mercury retorts significantly decreased total global mercury emissions. However, it also caused an increase in the amount of liquid mercury to be managed as waste, which created a new problem. The investigators also observed that using cyanide led to a considerable reduction in mercury emissions and use but caused an increase in cyanide emissions, which is dangerous.

In a statement, study lead author Shoki Kosai stated that the group’s observations identified the extent of issues that were unintentionally created by intervention strategies. Kosai also noted that the study’s results demonstrated that more effective measures for reducing mercury emissions and use needed the most attention, especially with regard to their inadvertent consequences.

The research was published in the “Resources, Conservation and Recycling” journal.

As more enterprises such as Eloro Resources Inc. (TSX.V: ELO) (OTCQX: ELRRF) get involved in mining activities in different parts of the world, their responsible and sustainable practices could have a positive effect in slowly changing the methods and materials used by artisanal minors since many aren’t even aware that mercury and other substances they use pose serious health risks.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Eloro Resources Ltd. (TSX.V: ELO) (OTCQX: ELRRF) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/ELRRF

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