Small gold miners health at risk by using mercury

14Feb 2020
The Guardian
Small gold miners health at risk by using mercury

SMALL gold miners in the country could be in danger over the use of mercury in recovering gold from other materials without protecting gears.

Theonestina Mwasha

This was revealed recently by the Theonestina Mwasha, Foundation of ASM Development (FADeV), a Non-Governmental Organisation Director engaged in the development of small miners in the country during his tour with newsmen at Mtalingi Mine in Nyakagwe area in Geita district.

Mwasha said among the issues they deal with in developing small gold miners is to educate them on their own safety especially when they go down into the pits, and the use of mercury in recovering the gold from the sand that they should wear protective gear.

“The number of small gold miners in the country is big and they are not well educated on the importance of using protective gears when prospecting for gold, including the use of mercury, they don’t wear safety shoes, protective gloves, instead they use bare hands which is dangerous to their health, she said.

She said when the miner uses mercury to separate gold from other materials with bare hands he or she is prone of getting bruises and if the mercury penetrates into the body, he or she will start to experience headaches, loss of memory and gearing, kidney infections ending up in death.

One of the gold miner, Boniphace Charles, said he understand that mercury is harmful to them and said they are used to recover gold with bare hands and appealed for more education on the importance of protective gear.

The owner of the gold mine Mtalingi Hamzeh said they know the adverse effects of mercury but when their provide protective gear to their workers they do not use them even though they were originally educated by FADeV, saying they are used working with bare hands.

He said despite recognizing harmful effects of mercury, small gold miners lack adequate operating capital to meet alternative ways to recover gold from other materials, hence appealed to financial institutions to provide loans to them so that they abandon the use of mercury altogether.