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Abstract Title: Why the measures to reduce/eliminate Hg in artisanal gold mining are not working
Presenter Name: Prof Marcello Veiga
Company/Organisation: University of British Columbia
Country: Canada

Abstract Information :

Analysis and discussion on why major environmental, technical and legal approaches to reduce or eliminate mercury in artisanal gold mining (AGM) operations, worldwide, bring little results.

I argue too much funding has been spent in revealing environmental and health impacts of AGM activities. Artisanal miners have no economic advantage in understanding the environmental, social and health costs they create. With no voice in project design and rarely seeing results, miners suspect the objectives of environmental and health projects. Currently, miners truly believe that mercury pollution is a trick to give conventional mining companies control.

Permanent technical assistance could transform artisanal mining. Generally understaffed, underfunded and with little technical knowledge, local governments in developing countries cannot provide what’s needed. I will present my thoughts on what is needed to address this issue.

Micro-miners, those processing less than 2 tonnes of ore per day, represent 90% of the almost 20 million artisanal gold miners in the world, are not the main environmental polluters. I will present my views on the main sources of environmental problems.

Government actions to formalize artisanal miners have had modest results. Legalization, formalization and other preferred policies, have failed. I will discuss why they have not succeeded.

Most mineral deposits discovered by artisanal miners are currently in other hands. Governments will never resolve the intricate problems of the dynamic sector of artisanal mining. I present the need for a different way of thinking in government.

The private sector is stepping forward and introducing processing plants to work together with artisanal miners. This provides more benefits to both, companies and artisanal miners. Many examples are available where the artisanal miners extract the ores and the companies process them. I will present the benefits of this approach I define as “coexistence” – a success story in different parts of the Americas.



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