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MEI Online: Commodities: Metallic Ores: Gold: Latest News: March 21st 2013


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:: Reducing Mercury Pollution in Ghana


Ghana Gold Corporation is supporting efforts to reduce liquid mercury pollution in Ghana. The effort to reduce the deadly mercury emissions is being spearheaded by several groups in Ghana, including Ghana's Minerals Commission and a Ghanaian not-for-profit group, "Earth Advocates". Mercury emissions are extremely prevalent and a major health and environmental concern particularly in small scale gold mining popularly called "galamsey" activities.

Liquid mercury is used in amalgamation of gold to recover gold in its native or "free form". While mercury simplifies the gold collection process considerably, it is extremely dangerous. Part of the gold collection process requires that the miners bake the amalgam balls.

These stone sized mercury and gold amalgam balls are heated on an open flame to separate the mercury from the gold. This process results in virtually all of the mercury being vaporized into the atmosphere, thus leaving only the raw gold. The United Nations Environmental Program "UNEP" estimates that mercury usage in Ghana alone could be as high as 500 tons per year.

Ghana Gold is preparing itself to be a primary provider of inexpensive Mercury retorts. Mercury retorts are used in the "baking" process whereby approximately 95% of the mercury is recovered and not released into the atmosphere.




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