Kassanda gold miners asked to stop use of mercury 

Kassanda gold miners asked to stop use of mercury 
Artisanal and small scale gold mining in Uganda( courtesy photo)

Experts have asked artisanal miners in Kassanda district to stop the use of mercury to extra gold due to its negative impact on their lives and the environment.

During a visit by the PlanetGold project together MPs on the natural resources committee, officials from the Energy Ministry, NEMA and other from Kassanda district to Kayonza mine site, miners were explained the adverse effects of using mercury to carry out their business.

“A 2018 study indicated that over 30,000kgs of mercury are released annually into the environment, both emissions, releases into land and water.  Artisanal and small scale gold mining came out as the highest emitter with over 18,000kg of mercury released into the environment. This affects the lives of many,” Anne Nakafeero, a principal environment officer in charge of biodiversity at NEMA said.

She said it is high time the artisanal and small scale gold miners abandoned the use of mercury while carrying out their trade or else they risk negative impacts on their lives.

According to Lynn Gitu, the Project Manager at PlanetGold Uganda, the project is being implemented in 23 countries across the world with a vision to ensuring a clean global supply of artisanal small scale gold.

“The cleanliness of the supply chain is specifically attached to the use of mercury. Mercury is toxic and dangerous to human health and environment and there is an understanding at the international level that mercury must be eliminated from the gold supply chain,”Gitu said.

She explained that the visit to Kayonza mining site in Kassanda district was aimed at ensuring stakeholders, especially Members of Parliament come up to speed with the challenges faced and the extent of investment by the artisanal and small scale miners.

These miners need money to invest in equipment to produce gold. As part of this project, we as stakeholders are interested in putting hands together to make sure small scale and artisanal miners are helped put their gold on the market, change their lives, build their communities and abandon the use of mercury.”

She explained that small scale and artisanal miners go for mercury because it has been used for a long time but also because it doesn’t need skills but said there are alternative technologies on the market that the miners can use and cheaply.

“There are so many alternatives on the market and cost about shs1.8m to $ 20,000  and these miners have a range of choices from which to pick. We urge them to use these alternatives, other than mercury which is dangerous to their lives and the environment.”

The PlanetGold Uganda project targets 4,500 artisanal miners working in 11 mines around the country and aims to reduce the use of mercury by at least 15 tonnes over the next five years.

The  project is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), executed by IMPACT and in partnership with Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Energy ministry.

According to Lynn Gitu, the project head PlanetGold, the project works together with local communities in Uganda to reduce the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the world’s largest source of anthropogenic emissions of mercury pollution while improving the health and lives of local mining communities.

The project will be in Uganda for five years and will be working in 11 mine sites in seven districts.

 

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