Millions of people worldwide depend on the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector to make ends meet and support their families. These miners produce roughly 20 percent of the world’s gold each year, but due to limited economic opportunities or a lack of awareness about the dangers, many operations use toxic mercury to extract their gold. This ancient method of gold extraction is leading to grievous environmental and health consequences.
However, an opportunity exists to create a more responsible gold market - one that directly benefits the communities in developing countries that rely on gold mining for their livelihood while simultaneously improving the gold supply chain and eliminating the world's largest source of mercury pollution. In order to tackle the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining and solve other environmental and social challenges, miners need to be supported in the transition, with better access to financing, training, and international markets.
To highlight artisanal and small-scale miners' journey to mercury-free, the GEF-funded planetGOLD program launched Dispatches From The Field, a short video series featuring some of the unique stories coming out of the countries where they work.
Each month over the coming year, planetGOLD will dive into some of the obstacles and barriers that miners have faced, while spotlighting champions that are breaking through these challenges to advance responsible mining and make meaningful change on the ground. The series aims to ultimately showcase and celebrate positive ripple effects the program is having on individuals and communities alike toward making mercury history in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
To catch each episode, be sure to subscribe to planetGOLD's YouTube channel to follow miners and teams from planetGOLD countries around the world on their journey to making mercury history in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
Episode 1: Demver Suzara, the Philippines
In the first episode of Dispatches From The Field, meet Demver Suzara, a small-scale miner in the Philippines. Mercury has been used for decades to collect gold in his community of Paracale, but he sees a brighter future. He is advocating to make mercury history in his community and is actively working with the planetGOLD Philippines project to install a mercury-free processing system.
Episode 2: Chris Alphonso, Guyana
In episode two, meet Chris Alphonso, a medium-scale miner in Guyana's hinterland. Until recently, using mercury was the best way he knew of to extract his gold, but since he partnered with planetGOLD Guyana to install a mercury-free demonstration project on his land, he has seen firsthand the benefits of using clean technologies and now encourages other miners to take up responsible mining methods.
PLUS: You can explore Chris' mine, the demonstration circuit, and the nearby gold town of Mahdia via this 360° interactive virtual tour.
Episode 3: Mercury Free Mining in Burkina Faso
Our third journey takes us to Burkina Faso. Artisanal & small-scale gold mining has been steadily growing there over the last decade, with most miners lacking finances and training to utilize methods that do not use toxic mercury.
But a newly installed mercury free processing system at planetGOLD Burkina Faso's project site is providing an opportunity for miners to train and experience firsthand the benefits of alternative technologies that can help end mercury use in the country's mining sector.
Episode 4: Mary Alwanyi, Kenya
In episode four, meet Mary Alwanyi, a small-scale miner and well-known community activist in Kakamega County, Kenya. She and other women from her community process gold in her backyard using mercury, but she is eager to get equipment that can help her get more gold without the use of this toxic chemical.
Hear her story and see how planetGOLD Kenya is working to help her improve her chances of getting financing to afford the mercury-free equipment she needs.