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Gold Mining and Mercury Emissions in Northern Guinea

The problem

The Project aims to reduce occupational health and environmental hazards of artisanal (small-scale) gold mining communities in northern Guinea. The total population of the area covered by the project is estimated at 150,000 of which over 40,000 people are involved every year in gold mining activities. The unregulated burning of mercury amalgam is the primary method for gold extraction. It is widely reported that this method yields 1 kg of gold for every 1.3 kg of mercury employed.

Health Impact

How can mercury affect my health?
The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Methylmercury and metallic mercury vapors are more harmful than other forms, because more mercury in these forms reaches the brain. Exposure to high levels of metallic, inorganic, or organic mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Effects on brain functioning may result in irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.

Short-term exposure to high levels of metallic mercury vapors may cause effects including lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes, and eye irritation. (ATSDR - ToxFAQs™)

Current Activity

In coordination with UNIDO, Professor Marcello Veiga of the University of British Columbia, who is Chief Technical Advisor for the Global Mercury Project, was sent by Blacksmith to Mozambique to train miners to use retorts that significantly reduce mercury emissions. Retorts are simple tools that capture evaporated mercury, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and harming the community, while allowing the mercury to be reused. This project, which assessed mercury use and mining practices in the region, trained miners and their families in mercury-reduction techniques, monitored usage and developed follow-up/replication plans, was a resounding success, and will be replicated in Northern Guinea in collaboration with Centre d'Appui au Développement (CAD), and the Ministry of the Environment.
Data File
Pollutants:
Mercury, Elementel Mercury
Location:
, Guinea
Transmission:
air, water, soil, direct contact, trophic accumulation
Source:
Artisanal Mining
Potentially affected people:
150,000
Report Type:
Project
Project Status:
Ongoing Project
Pollution Status:
Active
(projects) 20 queries took 935 ms
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2DESCRIBE `status`3334
3DESCRIBE `reports`5536
4DESCRIBE `countries`3336
5DESCRIBE `regions`3336
6DESCRIBE `project_images`5535
7DESCRIBE `project_pollutant`3336
8DESCRIBE `pollutants`2237
9DESCRIBE `project_transpath`3335
10DESCRIBE `project_resource`4436
11DESCRIBE `project_industry`3334
12DESCRIBE `industries`2234
13DESCRIBE `project_program`3337
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16SELECT `ProjectImage`.`id`, `ProjectImage`.`project_id`, `ProjectImage`.`image_name`, `ProjectImage`.`alt_tag`, `ProjectImage`.`rotate` FROM `project_images` AS `ProjectImage` WHERE `ProjectImage`.`project_id` = (8) 0034
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19SELECT `Industry`.`industry_code`, `Industry`.`industry_name`, `ProjectIndustry`.`id`, `ProjectIndustry`.`project_id`, `ProjectIndustry`.`industry_code` FROM `industries` AS `Industry` JOIN `project_industry` AS `ProjectIndustry` ON (`ProjectIndustry`.`project_id` = 8 AND `ProjectIndustry`.`industry_code` = `Industry`.`industry_code`) 1135
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(default) 17 queries took 38 ms
NrQueryErrorAffectedNum. rowsTook (ms)
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9SELECT `SiteLink`.`id`, `SiteLink`.`site_report_id`, `SiteLink`.`link_text`, `SiteLink`.`link_url` FROM `site_links` AS `SiteLink` WHERE `SiteLink`.`site_report_id` = (18) 000
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11SELECT `GalleryImage`.`id`, `GalleryImage`.`gallery_id`, `GalleryImage`.`image`, `GalleryImage`.`title`, `GalleryImage`.`description`, `GalleryImage`.`weight`, `GalleryImage`.`mime`, `GalleryImage`.`is_title` FROM `gallery_images` AS `GalleryImage` WHERE `GalleryImage`.`gallery_id` = (18) ORDER BY weight ASC 17171
12SELECT `DynpageCategory`.`id`, `DynpageCategory`.`parent_category`, `DynpageCategory`.`title`, `DynpageCategory`.`url`, `DynpageCategory`.`weight`, `ParentCategory`.`id`, `ParentCategory`.`parent_category`, `ParentCategory`.`title`, `ParentCategory`.`url`, `ParentCategory`.`weight` FROM `dynpage_categories` AS `DynpageCategory` LEFT JOIN `dynpage_categories` AS `ParentCategory` ON (`DynpageCategory`.`parent_category` = `ParentCategory`.`id`) WHERE `DynpageCategory`.`title` = '2013' ORDER BY `DynpageCategory`.`weight` ASC, `ParentCategory`.`weight` ASC LIMIT 1110
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