As part of the Mercury Phase-Out project, the event Golden opportunities was carried out in Guyanas to raise awareness on implementing clean technologies that allow gold processing without the use of mercury, a toxic chemical for the environment and human health, in the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining sector.  

The project is led by WWF Guianas, with the funding of The French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), and it is being implemented by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), and Conservation International. 

The event was also attended by Vickram Bharrat, Minister of Natural Resources of Guyana; Preciosa Simons, Permanent Secretary of mining MNR Suriname; representatives from the Ministry of Natural resources from Surinam; members of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC); University of Guyana; miners; and community leaders.

“One of the main challenges that we want to address with this project has to do with supporting communities into taking actions to reduce the use of mercury. This is done through knowledge sharing, coordination between different actors, the use of new technologies, and raising awareness to generate regional incidence. This is why these dialogues help to create collaborative solutions and strengthen  institutional capacities to improve the lives of ASM”, stated Gina D’Amato, Executive Director of the Alliance For Responsible Mining. 

As part of his participation, Vickram Bharrat, Minister of Natural Resources of Guyana said:We all are feeling the impacts of climate change. We know it is a difficult task to balance economics and environmental protection. Nevertheless, we need to find an innovative feasible solution that is environmentally friendly, and that will increase our recovery rates”.

Implementing clean technologies 

One of the main objectives of the project is to pilot the implementation of mercury-free extraction methods that can adapt to the miners’ needs and that are economically accessible.     

As part of this event, Yves Bertran, an external consultant for ARM, and Cleavon Cameron, ARM’s Technical Mining Liaison for Guyana, made a demonstration of gold recovery with a piece of innovative equipment that is not used in the country yet. Miners who attended showed great interest in clean technologies and the benefits they bring to them and their families. 

Moving forward

Technical mining experts will continue working in 2 mining sites in both Guyanas and Suriname to carry on with the testing of mercury-free equipment and the implementation of the CRAFT Code. In Guyana, the first trials of the Goldrop were performed in the community of Micobie with good initial results that will continue with additional equipment obtained in partnership with GGMC. On the other hand, in Suriname, the first trials will start by mid-October in the community of Companigkreek.

As further steps for the project, besides continuing to seek best ways of improving mercury-free techniques, we look forward to starting the implementation of the improvement plans for the mining operations, together with opening spaces of dialogue at the local level between miners and local entities. As for ARM in both countries, it keeps strengthening its ties with its partners and stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Natural Resources, to continue pushing the importance of the sector in the public agenda.

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