Mercury Pollution from Small-Scale Gold Mining Can Be Stopped by Implementing the Gravity-Borax Method: A Two-Year Follow-Up Study from Two Mining Communities in the Philippines

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Rasmus Køster-Rasmussen, Maria L Westergaard, Marie Sørensen Brasholt, Richard Gutierrez, Erik Jørs, Jane Frølund Thomsen

Mercury is used globally to extract gold in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The mercury-free gravity-borax method for gold extraction was introduced in two mining communities using mercury in the provinces Kalinga and Camarines Norte. This article describes project activities and quantitative changes in mercury consumption and analyzes the implementation with diffusion of innovations theory. Activities included miner-to-miner training; seminars for health-care workers, school teachers, and children; and involvement of community leaders. Baseline (2011) and follow-up (2013) data were gathered on mining practices and knowledge about mercury toxicology. Most miners in Kalinga converted to the gravity-borax method, whereas only a few did so in Camarines Norte. Differences in the nature of the social systems impacted the success of the implementation, and involvement of the tribal organization facilitated the shift in Kalinga. In conclusion, the gravity-borax method is a doable alternative to mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, but support from the civil society is needed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy
Volume25
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)567-587
Number of pages21
ISSN1048-2911
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

ID: 157367946