Small-scale miners trained on proper use of mercury

By Valentine Oforo , The Guardian
Published at 08:00 AM May 08 2024
Small -scale -miners
Photo: Guardian Correspondent
Small -scale -miners

THE National Environment Management Council (NEMC) is collaborating with the office of Chief Government Chemist to train small-scale miners in the Mwakitolyo mines within Mwakitolyo ward of Shinyanga municipality on proper use of mercury.

Through Environmental Health and Pollution Management Project (EHPMP) project funded by World Bank (WB), small-scale miners are taught on how to reduce harmful effects of unprofessional handling of mercury towards human beings and the environment.

The initiative will also be implemented in several regions, including Geita, Mbeya, Singida, Mwanza, Mara, Songwe and Shinyanga.

Speaking during the training yesterday, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from NEMC, Hassan Maalim said the vision behind the training is to ensure mining areas across the country are maintaining the quality of the environment as recommended by Minamata Convention on mercury.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is the most recent global agreement on environment and health, adopted in 2013.

 It is named after the bay in Japan where, in the mid-20th century, mercury-tainted industrial wastewater poisoned thousands of people, leading to severe health damage that became known as the "Minamata disease."

"Most of the miners within the country are operating under complicated and unwanted risk conditions as they're not adhering to required standards,"

"For instance during pre- processing of gold, which is often done by hand, most of them are not wearing hand- gloves, which is very risky," Maalim revealed.

On his part, Audit and Registration from the office of Chief Government Chemist Magdalena Mtenga explained that some of the side effects that often affected the workers in the mines due to poor use of mercury as destruction of the kidney, conscious system, as well as craziness.

Other side effects include memory loss, stress all the time, loss of eyesight, shaking hands, reduced male power, miscarriage and children born with cerebral palsy.

Mentenga challenged them to develop the habit of doing regular tests to know the levels of mercury in their body and when it exceeds they should follow the advice of the doctors they will be given.

One of the miners, Juma Daudi said that he did not know the effects of mercury as it can cause miscarriage and loss of sight because he came to confirm this after seeing one of them affected by mercury and having two colors in his body and promised to take precautions all the time he is at work.