Learn about the consequences of its use on artisanal and small-scale miners’ health and the environment
As part of our work to promote best practices among artisanal and small-scale miners, we have released a video to inform about the impact of mercury on health and the environment, as well as to promote the elimination of mercury use in gold mining.
Although Colombia releases 75 tons of mercury per year, which is relatively less than other countries, the impact of mercury is much greater in proportion to the country’s population. Consequently, many communities living near mining sites are more vulnerable to the effects of these polluting emissions.
Mercury is naturally found in its natural and organic forms. The former refers to its elemental form, that is, occurring naturally in the environment without man’s intervention. The latter is known as organic mercury or methylmercury, which produces greater toxicity due to its reaction with microorganisms such as bacteria.
Amalgamation, which is the separation of gold from other minerals using mercury, is still widely practiced among artisanal miners due to its low cost and efficiency relationship. However, the consequences of dumping and releasing mercury molecules into the environment continue to be a public health problem.
The video is in spanish
Mercury is a highly toxic element, which in its methylmercury form can reach humans more quickly through airways, water and food. One of the most common conditions due to mercury contamination is Minamata disease, which is a neurological disease including symptoms such as:
• Damage to vision and hearing
• Cerebral palsy
• Cardiovascular diseases
Considering the serious health hazards of mercury exposure, our organization is responsible for informing the artisanal and small-scale mining sector about the impact of mercury to suggest production alternatives that could benefit miners with no risk to the environment and surrounding communities.