Archive | Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining/Mercury Problems

Artisanal gold mining polluting Peruvian biodiversity hotspot -study – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – November 17, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

Researchers at Dartmouth College analyzed satellite data and discovered that artisanal mining is altering the water clarity and dynamics of the Madre de Dios River watershed in the Peruvian Amazon.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers explained that higher levels of suspended sediment were found in rivers near the mining sites. The sediments contain mercury and other contaminants.

According to the Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation, Canada’s NGO Artisanal Gold Council has registered that some 181 tonnes of mercury are released into the environment every year in the Madre de Dios region. Continue Reading →

The Hidden Cost of Gold: Birth Defects and Brain Damage – by Richard C. Paddock (New York Times – Novmeber 9, 2019)

https://www.nytimes.com/

CIDAHU, Indonesia — Thousands of children with crippling birth defects. Half a million people poisoned. A toxic chemical found in the food supply. Accusations of a government cover-up and police officers on the take. This is the legacy of Indonesia’s mercury trade, a business intertwined with the lucrative and illegal production of gold.

More than a hundred nations have joined a global campaign to reduce the international trade in mercury, an element so toxic there is “no known safe level of exposure,” according to health experts.

But that effort has backfired in Indonesia, where illicit backyard manufacturers have sprung up to supply wildcat miners and replace mercury that was previously imported from abroad. Now, Indonesia produces so much black-market mercury that it has become a major global supplier, surreptitiously shipping thousands of tons to other parts of the world. Continue Reading →

The complexities of military involvement in mining – by Patrick Kingsland (Mining Technology – August 22, 2019)

https://mine.nridigital.com/

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is home to one of the world’s poorest populations, many of whom survive on less than a pound a day. It is also home to 64% of the world’s cobalt supplies – a vital mineral that powers smartphones and electric cars, and offers hope of a more renewable future.

While the majority of Congo’s cobalt is produced by some of the world’s largest mining firms, roughly a third is dug out by hundreds of thousands of informal, artisanal miners who work in dangerous conditions with few safety measures and little recompense.

The big firms use heavy duty trucks and other expensive equipment to dig out the metal. The local Congolese usually use their bare hands, with children making up a significant part of the labour force. Their efforts often end up in global battery supply chains – usually via China – and then into western smartphones and vehicles. Continue Reading →

The wildcat goldminers doomed by their toxic trade – by Tim Cocks and David Lewis (Reuters U.S. – July 24, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

High gold prices and cheap equipment are luring millions in Africa to informal mines that feed, and slowly poison, them

BAWDIE, Ghana – A few years after coming as a teenager to this Ghanaian town to prospect for gold, Yaw Ngoha had made enough cash to marry his sweetheart and build a house with a porch, to which he would later add a flat-screen TV and satellite dish.

So when a town elder invited a doctor to talk to miners about the hazards of wildcat mining, “nobody listened,” said the 36-year-old, sitting on a wooden bench on his porch in a lush banana grove. “We needed money.”

Since Ngoha started prospecting in the early 2000s, more and more people like him have helped Ghana grow into Africa’s biggest gold producer. Across the continent and beyond, millions have turned to the trade. Few are deterred by the risks. Continue Reading →

Armed Forces Called to Defend Glencore Mine in Congo – by William Clowes and Tiago Ramos Alfaro (Bloomberg News – July 4, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Glencore Plc said armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo are in the area around the operations of its Kamoto Copper Co., after dozens of illegal miners were killed in a landslide last week.

“We prioritize the safety and security of our workforce and host communities,” Glencore said in a statement on Thursday. “KCC will continue to engage with all the relevant stakeholders to collaborate on identifying and implementing a long-term, sustainable solution to illegal mining in the DRC.”

Illegal miners will be removed from the site of the Glencore project where at least 43 died last week, Interior Minister Basile Olongo said on Saturday. Glencore estimates that 2,000 unauthorized people enter its open-pit mine on average every day. Continue Reading →

Peru shut down one of the world’s largest illegal gold mines. But at what cost? – by Jim Wyss (Miami Herald – June 11, 2019)

https://www.miamiherald.com/

PUERTO MALDONADO, PERU: For more than a decade, authorities turned a blind eye to the sprawling illegal gold mine in southeastern Peru that had become a national embarrassment but fueled the local economy.

The area, known as La Pampa, stretches across 40 square miles of what used to be old-growth Amazon forest. Now it’s a desert-like wasteland, gouged with toxic mud pits.

It’s a place where some 30,000 to 40,000 people dug through the muck in 24-hour shifts looking for gold to feed the bullion and jewelry markets of Miami and Europe. It was a place ruled by criminal gangs and warring clans, where workers toiled under slave-like conditions and police rarely entered. Continue Reading →

Child labour in mining, poor working conditions take centre stage in inter-regional meeting – by APO (Business Ghana – May 30, 2019)

https://www.businessghana.com/

Experts and global actors from Africa, Asia and South America gathered in Manila to address child labour and poor working conditions in artisanal and small-scale gold mines (ASGM).

The first-ever Inter-regional Knowledge-Sharing Forum on Child Labour and Working Conditions in ASGM of the International Labour Organization (ILO) served as a platform for dialogue.

Governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, international non-government organizations, civil society organizations, miners’ groups and their communities, and ASGM supply chain actors joined the forum.

Countries represented include Colombia, Congo, Cote d’ Ivoire, France, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Mali, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Thailand, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. Continue Reading →

Philippines: Dying For Gold (Al Jazeera.com – May 2019)

https://www.aljazeera.com/

We investigate why people are risking their lives in an illegal gold industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the Philippines, an illegal gold trade is booming. But not everyone is reaping large profits.

Investors desperate to cash in on a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year are enticing poor villagers to risk their lives by diving deep below the surface of muddy mangroves in search of gold.

The nuggets they find may eventually fetch a high price, but miners often receive a pittance and there is little safeguard to protect them. Continue Reading →

More than 40 million people work in artisanal mining: report – by Peter Hobson (Reuters U.S. – April 24, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 40 million people around the world work in artisanal and small-scale mining where minerals including gold, diamonds and cobalt are dug up often by hand, a report by the World Bank and development organization Pact said on Wednesday.

Increasing demand for metals and rising prices have triggered a boom in small-scale mining in recent years, mainly in poorer countries in South America, Africa and Asia.

These mines are a vital source of income for communities, but many operate outside the law and leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. Working conditions can be appalling, and the metal and stones dug up are often smuggled across borders on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations. Continue Reading →

Illegal online sales driving mercury pollution crisis in Indonesia – by Luh De Suriyani and Nurdin Tubaka (Mongabay.com – April 8, 2019)

https://news.mongabay.com/

  • Illegal online mercury sales are booming in Indonesia.
  • Use of the toxic metal was banned in 2014, but it remains popular among small-time miners, for whom it’s become increasingly easy to procure online.
  • It’s a quick and dirty process that constitutes the livelihoods of some 1 million people spread across the country. But prolonged exposure to mercury can have severe health consequences.

DENPASAR/BURU ISLAND, Indonesia — Illegal online mercury sales are booming in Indonesia, and activists have had enough. “Nearly all the mercury players in Indonesia do their business illegally,” says Yuyun Ismawati, a Goldman Prize-winning activist and founder of the environmental NGO BaliFokus.

“That includes manufacturers, traders, exporters, and users, especially in the small-scale gold mining sector.”

Use of the toxic metal was banned in 2014, but it remains popular among small-time miners, for whom it’s become increasingly easy to procure online. Continue Reading →

‘Informal’ Gold Mining ‘Now 15%’ of World Output (Bullion Vault – April 5, 2019)

https://www.bullionvault.com/

Artisanal + small-scale mines adds 700 tonnes to decade total…

GOLD MINING output worldwide is running more than 4% higher than previously estimated according to leading analysts, thanks to a boom in so-called “informal” projects across developing economies.

With total world gold mine output recording a 10th consecutive year of growth in 2018, and its 9th new all-time high, specialists analysts Metals Focus this week announced a “fairly substantial revision” to their estimates for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).

These often illegal and highly dangerous projects produced around 550 tonnes of gold in 2018 according to Metals Focus’ new figures, some 15% of total global output. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Towards a mercury-free future in Mongolia and the Philippines (United Nations Environment Program – April 5, 2019)

  • The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector accounts for 20 per cent of the world’s annual gold production
  • New $60-million initiative will improve conditions for artisanal miners in Mongolia and the Philippines, while slashing harmful mercury emissions
  • As many as 15 million people work in the ASGM sector globally – including 4.5 million women and over 600,000 children
  • The ASGM sector is the single largest source of man-made mercury emissions, responsible for the release of as much as 1,000 tonnes of mercury to the atmosphere annually

Ulaanbaatar, 5 April 2019 – With twenty per cent of the world’s gold supply produced by artisanal and small-scale miners, urgent action is needed to reduce the environmental impact of the sector, as well as to protect the health and wellbeing of the millions of men, women and children working in the industry, according to the backers of a new project to reform the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM) sector in Mongolia and the Philippines. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: [Documentary] The Shadow of Gold explores the dark side of the world’s most precious metal (January 19, 2019)

 

Do you know where the gold in your ring comes from?

TORONTO (January 30, 2019) – The Shadow of Gold pulls back the curtain on the world’s most coveted heavy metal. Filmed in Canada (Mount Polley, BC), the U.S., London, Dubai, China, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the feature film is an incisive global investigation of the gold trade, from raw material to market, exposing its impact on human lives, the economy and the planet.

An international Canada-France co-production by award-winning filmmakers Robert Lang (Canada), Denis Delestrac (France) and Sally Blake (France), The Shadow of Gold makes its world premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on February 22, followed by screenings in Ottawa (February 27), Vancouver (March 11), Calgary (March 20), Montreal (March 26) and Halifax (Date TBA).

The film will make its broadcast premiere as a two-part documentary with expanded content in back-to-back episodes March 13 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on TVO, and March 28 at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Canal D (Canada). Additional broadcasts on Knowledge Network (BC) – date to be announced, ARTE (France, Germany), SVT (Sweden) and NRK (Norway). Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest under siege by illegal mines – by Ricardo Moraes and Jake Spring (Reuters U.S. – December 11, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Environmental enforcement agents deep in the Amazon rainforest swooped down on an illegal mine in a dawn raid in early November, in a campaign to tamp down on such activities that environmental groups say have reached epidemic scale.

The operation was carried out against a handful of what are now known to be hundreds of illegal Amazon mines in Brazil that have been cataloged for the first time in a study released on Monday.

The project, coordinated by Brazilian advocacy group Instituto Socioambiental, maps all illegal mines in the Amazon rainforest that sprawls across Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Continue Reading →

Illegal gold rush destroying Amazon rainforest – study – by Anastasia Moloney (Thomson Reuters Foundation – December 10, 2018)

https://af.reuters.com/

BOGOTA, Dec 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A rise in small-scale illegal gold mining is destroying swathes of the Amazon rainforest, according to research released on Monday that maps the scale of the damage for the first time.

Researchers used satellite imagery and government data to identify at least 2,312 illegal mining sites across six countries in South America – Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

The maps show the spread and scale of illegal mining and were produced by the Amazon Socio-environmental, Geo-referenced Information Project (RAISG), which brings together a network of nonprofit environmental groups in the Amazon. Continue Reading →