Thursday, 10 May 2012

JP small-scale miners drop mercury for borax in gold recovery

The member of NGO Ban Toxic led by Misael Santos, chief operations officer (second from right), reports to Mayor Ricarte Padilla (right) on the progress of mercury-free operations in Baranggay Sta Rosa Sur, where 90 gold panners have shifted to the use of Borax, another chemical, in gold recovery. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ


ABOUT 90 small-scale gold miners in Baranggay Sta Rosa Sur, in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, have abandoned the use of mercury for borax -- another chemical -- in gold recovery.

This was reported by the local unit of, a non-governmental organization, to Mayor Ricarte Padilla recently.

Misael Santos, the NGO's chief operations officer, told Ricarte the Sta Rosa Sur gold miners have shifted to the use of borax, a chemical which proved to be safe to use in recovering gold from tailings.

"The 90 converts have been convinced that they have better gold recovery when they use borax instead of the dangerous mercury," Santos said.

These two bay miners use an outrigger boat, a sluicing gadget, a bucket, a shovel and hats to recover gold from the shallow portion of Mambulao Bay. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

He said that Ban Toxic had earlier demonstrated the use of borax as the safer alternative to mercury.

"Since then, the rest of the gold panners in the baranggay had undergone training in mercury-free gold recovery."

Padilla has become a strong advocate of mercury-free small-scale gold operations in the country.

"With 90 gold panners in Sta Rosa shifting to borax, we have proven that gold could be recovered in safe and inefficient manner," he told MWBuzz.

With the success in the use of borax as gold recovery agent, a summit on mercury-free gold recovery would be held in Jose Panganiban this coming September, Santos said.

He said that he is confident that the rest of small-scale gold miners in the municipality of Jose Panganiban would soon abandon the use of mercury in recovering gold in favor of borax.

Small-scale mining, particularly gold panning, is one of the most-sought sources of livelihood in Jose Panganiban, where rich gold districts could be found in a number of baranggays that included Sta Rosa Sur, Sta Rosa Norte, Bagong-bayan, Osmena, Luklukan Sur and Norte, Calogcog and Pag-asa.

Small-scale gold panners operate on the bay of Mambulao, just a stone's throw away from the municipal building, causing the bay water murky and silted up almost permanently. - MWBuzzpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

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