Minerals Commission moves to ban the use of mercury in small scale mining.

The Minerals Commission is stepping up efforts to ban the use of mercury especially by small scale miners.

Artisanal and small scale mining in the country predominantly resort to mercury as the most effective material in refining the gold ore.

The effects of the harmful chemical in water bodies and source of drinking water in especially mining areas has become a worry to the commission.

Principal Officer at the Minerals Commission, Jerry Ahadji explained to Luv FM the indiscriminate use of mercury to trap gold concentrate is a serious issue so need for the ban.

“It is poisonous and a dangerous chemical. It gets into streams and sometimes into our food. That is why the world over, we want to ban mercury from small scale mining”. He said warned.

It is estimated that artisanal and small scale gold mining releases between 650 to 1350 tonnes of mercury per annum into the environment, averaging 1000 tonnes per annum from at least 70 countries.

The commission is therefore intensifying the ban this year.

Ghana in 2014 joined 127 other countries worldwide to sign to the Minamata Convention on Mercury which was passed in 2013.

The global treaty’s objective is to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

Major highlights of the convention include a ban on new mercury mines, phase-out existing ones, and enforce international regulation of the informal sector for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Every country is expected to make efforts to get other forms of processing gold without the use of mercury.

To avert the situation in Ghana, the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT) has developed a technology that employs environmental friendly material to process the gold.

The technology known as direct smelting or ‘Sika Bukyea’ local parlance which was developed in 2010 is expected to serve as a substitute to the dangerous mercury.

It is a concentrate and some flax of chemicals which when heated one can easily use to get the gold.

According to Mr. Ahadji, the Minerals Commission wants to produce it en mass to be able to get development partners subsidize these equipments for the miners.

Meanwhile, the Commission has begun what it calls Mercury Pollution Abatement Education exercise to get the small scale miners to use the technology.

He reveals that officers across the country have been detailed to educate mining communities and small scale miners on mercury pollution.


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