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Abstract Title: Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Baseline Mercury Emissions and Releases in National Action Plans: Comparison of Calculation Methods and Proposed Best Practices
Presenter Name: Michelle Schwartz
Company/Institution: University of Texas at Arlington
Session: Special Session - Artisanal and Small- Scale Gold Mining - challenges and solutions
Co-Authors: Michelle Schwartz

Abstract Information :

Establishing baseline levels of mercury emissions from artisanal and small-scale gold mining is necessary for understanding the scope of the environmental issue posed by the sector as well as one of the main priorities of the Minamata Convention?s National Action Plans. However, such baseline estimates are calculated differently depending upon the country or the study. These calculation methods influence baseline mercury values and directly impact national governments? perspectives of artisanal and small-scale mining communities. This paper examines the different calculation strategies utilized to estimate mercury emissions. Information from 19 countries was compiled from their respective National Action Plans to compare mercury emission estimates and their respective calculation methods. Discrepancies in gold production estimates and mercury-to-gold ratios demonstrate that the suggested methodologies for developing a baseline estimate are not being followed consistently. Additionally, differences in extrapolating site-specific data to regional and national levels differed significantly, illustrating an area of growth for National Action Plans. Drawing on well-developed emission estimation techniques for other contaminants of concern, best practices are suggested for future National Action Plans to overcome identified challenges. Improved mercury emission estimates using the suggested best practice will result in more representative global mercury assessments and provide national governments with a more accurate understanding of the state of artisanal and small-scale gold mining within their borders, thereby influencing policy decisions.

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