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Knowledge sharing in artisanal mining communities : mercury, technology and sustainability in developing countries

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Title: Knowledge sharing in artisanal mining communities : mercury, technology and sustainability in developing countries
Author: Spiegel, Samuel J.; Veiga, Marcello M. (Marcello Mariz)
Issue Date: 2006
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2009-05-29
Series/Report no. British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium 2006
Abstract: As gold has risen in value and artisanal gold mining has increased in many low income countries, there has been an increasing need for sustainable development models that promote environmental protection while enhancing the contribution of this activity to poverty alleviation. Artisanal mining provides a critical source of income for an estimated 15 million poverty-driven miners around the world, mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, its environmental impacts are often extensive, with mercury pollution posing major threats to human health and diverse ecosystems. 1000 tonnes of mercury are polluted annually into the environment due to mercury misuse in artisanal gold mining. This paper reviews community development models pioneered by local community practitioners and international experts as part of an initiative by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, which can help to overcome environmental, social and economic challenges. We discuss the introduction of various technical options, from simple innovations that allow mercury containment, recycling and re-use, and also emphasize the importance of technologies of grinding and crushing that can be developed from local materials to further enhance income potential. While various past development efforts have sought to reduce mercury-related problems, we conclude that sustainable development should seek to intertwine knowledge-sharing on environmental goals with concrete ways of improving economic well-being. We demonstrate how such models of knowledge-sharing can help to catalyze local innovation, technology-sharing and community organization. We also discuss how this knowledge can be applied by governments to create capacitybuilding policies as well as regulations that support sustained improvement in mining standards.
Affiliation: Applied Science, Faculty of
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/8455
Peer Review Status:

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