Thursday, 19 July 2012

Mambulao gold district to go mercury-free soon

A miner uses crude tools to extract gold ore ... Small-scale gold operations use mercury extensively to maximize the recovery of gold. Executive Order No 79 has mandated that mercury use in gold operations all over the country is now illegal.  –Photo by getolympusa


THE gold mining district of Mambulao will go mercury-free very soon.

The recently-signed Executive Order No 79  has banned the use of mercury in all forms of gold recovery processes.

Signed  early this month, the new EO seeks to streamline the mining industry and to increase government share from mining revenues.

The ban will be enforced by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Burea (EMB) in coordination with local government units (LGUs).

The use of mercury to retrieve gold has become widespread with more and more people going into small-scale gold mining operations.

Despite the hazard it poses on the health of the gold miners, the chemical has remained a major component in gold recovery.

Jose Panganiban Mayor Ricarte Padilla, who has become an advocate of mercury-free gold operations, was said to be elated over the banning of mercury use.

He has advocated strongly against the use of mercury in all gold mining sites across the country because of the damage it caused on the environment and health of those using it.

At present Ricarte is working closely with Ban Toxic!, a non-governmental organization that has been waging campaigns against toxic materials that could destroy the environment.

Recently, the NGO has convinced a group gold panners in Mambulao to shift to the use of borax, another chemical but safer to use, in gold recovery processes.

So far, gold miners who began using borax have found that the chemical is more effective in recovering gold and safer to use than mercury.

With EO79 mandating  a no-mercury gold mining  operation,  JP-LGU is expected to launch a campaign to inform small gold operators about the new law.

“The new executive order has given LGUs a solid basis to go after the violators,” a source from the JP-LGU told MWBuzz.

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