Every year over 1,400 tonnes of mercury are released into the environment through artisanal and small scale mining for gold. As part of the process of extracting gold particles from rock, miners mix the toxic substance with ore containing gold and the two metals combine to form an amalgam. This is then heated to recover the gold by boiling off the mercury, which is released into the atmosphere and ecosystems.
This release creates an extremely high risk of poisoning, to which the miners are very vulnerable. The effects on their health – muscle weakness, poor coordination, kidney problems, cognitive decline and eventual death – are devastating.
>> Read the full article in the Guardian.