An Investigation into the Level of Preparedness of Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining Operations (ASGM) in Mahdia to Transform the Mercury-Free Mining Techniques

Viola King & Patrick Williams

SEES Research Series •   First published: 2013


The use of mercury by artisanal small-scale gold miners has resulted in high human-health and environmental costs. As a result, mercury usefulness is on the decline to foster more effective and reliable environmentally-friendly alternatives.  The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector contributes significantly as a source of income for thousands of people and a significant source of employment in Guyana. However, extensive uncontrolled mining operations are causing significant environmental, health and socio-cultural problem. The aim of this study was to examine the preparedness of ASGM operations in Mahdia, Guyana in transforming to mercury-free mining technologies. A mixed method approach of both quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (interviews) techniques was used for the collection of data. Analysis showed that the majority of the surveyed population was largely unprepared to adopt mercury alternatives, 49% were somewhat prepared and 30% were not prepared. While artisanal small-scale gold miners have little knowledge of the dangers of mercury, most believe mercury use to be dangerous. Awareness programmes may help to address reluctance to adopt mercury-free technologies and promote preparedness to phase out mercury in this sector.

Keywords: Gold mining, ASGM, mercury, Mahdia

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