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Issue 51
July , 2014
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Reducing Mercury Impacts in Small-Scale Gold Mining

Source: UNEP, Date: July , 2014

Despite knowing full well the dangers of mercury, millions of small-scale gold miners across the globe continue to use the metal to separate gold from ore - usually because they have little other choice.

The mercury is mixed into ore and combines with the gold in a compound that can easily be scooped out and squeezed into a small bar of amalgam. This is then burned so that the mercury evaporates, leaving behind the gold. The dangerously toxic mercury vapour is often inhaled by the miners and their families, since these activities are usually conducted in their homes, or by the owners of gold shops who will process the amalgam for the miners before buying.

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http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2791&ArticleID=10945&l=en

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