Mercury is being used extensively to mine gold in artisanal and small mines world-wide. The biggest exporters of the mercury include Germany, South Africa, and the USA, although almost all industrial countries seem to sell some. The mercury appears to be exported and imported legally, ostensibly for dental use, but most of it gets diverted to middlemen who supply the miners in exchange for the gold they produce.

Use of mercury significantly affects the health of the miners and their families and causes considerable environmental damage. There does not seem to be a truly viable alternative. Maybe we could control the sale of mercury, but that is surely impossible. Maybe we could get them to substitute cyanide, but that is no environmental sinecure. Maybe we should stop using gold, but tell that to a central banker or jewelry-loving woman.

Professors from universities in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, are trying their best, but reading successive reports over the years, leads me to the conclusion that things are only getting worse, not better. As always the problem lies, in my opinion, with inept and corrupt governments, and social conditions that exist in places where Big Men rule the roost. It should come as no surprise that Zimbabwe is one of the worst offenders.

Here are links to some of the many documents freely available on the web. I lift them from the website of the Global Mercury Project. I undertake this drastic plagiarism in the hope that simply making these documents readily available, will somehow ameliorate the situation.

Environmental and health assessments summary document. This report characterizes presents the main findings of the GMPs Environmental and Health Assessments for Brazil, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Assessment of the environmental and health impacts of ASM has been one of the main objectives of the Global Mercury Project; these studies have provided baseline data and will ensure that further GMP activities are properly targeted. (2006 )

Manual for Training Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Miners, Authors: Veiga MM, Metcalf SM, Baker RF, Klein B, Davis G, Bamber A, Siegel S, Singo P. (2006)

Global Impacts of Mercury Supply and Demand in Small-Scale Gold Mining. Report from UNIDO to the UNEP Governing Council Meeting in Nairobi for February 2007. Authors: Spiegel SJ & Veiga MM (October 2006)

Mercury and Small Scale Gold Mining– Magnitude and Challenges Worldwide. Presentation given by Dr. Kevin Telmer to the International Conference on Managing the International Supply and Demand of Mercury, in Brussels. Author: Kevin Telmer (October 2006)

The presentation Economic Aspects of Reducing Mercury Pollution in Artisanal Gold Mining was given by Simon D. Handelsman & Dr. Marcello Veiga at the Canadian Institute of Mining Annual Meeting in May of 2006.

Communities and Small Scale Mining: An Integrated Review for Development Planning, Author: Jennifer Hinton, (2006)

Next phase of the GMP Slide Presentation which presents the issues faced by the GMP and the need to continually evaluate its objectives. Author: Marcello Veiga, (2005)

Less Mercury, More Gold, and Better Health A PDF two page brochure explaining goals of the GMP. Author: Marcello Veiga (November 2005)