Dispatches From The Field is a regular video series from planetGOLD spotlighting unique stories coming out of countries in the planetGOLD programme as we work to demonstrate a pathway to cleaner and more efficient artisanal and small-scale gold mining practices that benefit everyone, from mine to market.
Every month or two we dive into some of the obstacles and barriers that miners have faced, while featuring champions that are breaking through these challenges to advance responsible mining and make meaningful change on the ground. Ultimately, the series aims to showcase and celebrate positive ripple effects the program is having on individuals and communities alike toward making mercury history in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
Episode 1: Demver Suzara, the Philippines
In the first episode of Dispatches From The Field, meet Demver Suzara, a small-scale miner in the Philippines. Mercury has been used for decades to collect gold in his community of Paracale, but he sees a brighter future. He is advocating to make mercury history in his community and is actively working with the planetGOLD Philippines project to install a mercury-free processing system.
Episode 2: Chris Alphonso, Guyana
In episode two, meet Chris Alphonso, a medium-scale miner in Guyana's hinterland. Until recently, using mercury was the best way he knew of to extract his gold, but since he partnered with planetGOLD Guyana to install a mercury-free demonstration project on his land, he has seen firsthand the benefits of using clean technologies and now encourages other miners to take up responsible mining methods.
PLUS: You can explore Chris' mine, the demonstration circuit, and the nearby gold town of Mahdia via this 360° interactive virtual tour.
Episode 3: Mercury Free Mining in Burkina Faso
Our third journey takes us to Burkina Faso. Artisanal & small-scale gold mining has been steadily growing there over the last decade, with most miners lacking finances and training to utilize methods that do not use toxic mercury.
But a newly installed mercury free processing system at planetGOLD Burkina Faso's project site is providing an opportunity for miners to train and experience firsthand the benefits of alternative technologies that can help end mercury use in the country's mining sector.
Episode 4: Mary Alwanyi, Kenya
In episode four, meet Mary Alwanyi, a small-scale miner and well-known community activist in Kakamega County, Kenya. She and other women from her community process gold in her backyard using mercury, but she is eager to get equipment that can help her get more gold without the use of this toxic chemical.
Hear her story and see how planetGOLD Kenya is working to help her improve her chances of getting financing to afford the mercury-free equipment she needs.
Episode 5: Helping miners access financing in Peru
The fifth episode looks at innovative approaches the planetGOLD Peru project is piloting to unlock flows of formal finance for small-scale miners, which is critical for them to make the transition to mercury-free.
By designing financial products specifically for the sector, improving financial institutions' understanding of this unique industry, and developing a new financing mechanism, the project is working to overcome a major barrier in the shift to responsible, mercury-free ASGM.
Episode 6: Working to #EmbraceEquity for women gold miners
Anne Desma is a small-scale gold miner and community leader in western Kenya who is determined to lead her community toward mercury-free mining. Women like her have a key role to play in the push to make mercury history in the ASGM sector globally.
On International Women's Day 2023 we recognized Anne and all of the women miners who are showing that to achieve a responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector it is key to embrace equity for all.
Episode 7: Bringing mercury-free methods to the indigenous community of Karrau
In Karrau, an Amerindian settlement along the banks of the Essequibo River in Guyana, small-scale gold mining has become a major source of income.
Hear from Toshao Shane Cornelius, the village leader, on why he has partnered with planetGOLD Guyana to bring mercury-free mining technologies to this Indigenous community and demonstrate how villagers can provide for their families in a responsible way.
Episode 8: Women training women to go mercury-free in Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Sumatra is home to hundreds of small-scale miners who work as gold panners, including 42-year-old Sugiyanti.
After participating in a train-the-trainer program with planetGOLD Indonesia, Sugiyanti learned to use mercury-free technologies like the Gold Cube, and she has excelled in spreading this knowledge to other miners in her area through training events.
Episode 9: Building a mercury-free future in Mongolia
Two new facilities nearing completion in Mongolia will allow small-scale gold miners to use a centralized, professional processing service that is mercury-free, rather than doing the gold processing themselves in secret using mercury.
Visit the new mercury-free facilities constructed in Mandal soum and Tunkhel village to get a glimpse of these lasting investments to help miners transition and make mercury history in Mongolia's ASGM sector.
Episode 10: Partnering with Indigenous communities in the Philippines to Make Mercury History
Alfredo Somebang is an elder of the Pidlisan Indigenous tribe, which is part of the collective tribe of Igorot, or "people of the mountains," in the Philippines' Sagada region. He works as a gold miner as well as a farmer to support his family. Small-scale gold mining is an increasingly important part of this region’s economy, and for the past two years, the planetGOLD project has worked with Alfredo and other miners to design a mercury-free gold processing plant that is fully accepted and approved by all local Indigenous communities.
When the project is completed the team hopes it will be a positive example of the importance of using Free, Prior & Informed Consent (FPIC) when working with Indigenous communities. Hear from Alfredo and project staff in this episode of Dispatches From the Field.
Episode 11: Miners and processing plants partnering to Make Mercury History in Ecuador
A new initiative in Ecuador encourages small-scale gold miners to sell their mineral to mercury-free processing plants, all while delivering a higher profit rate than if the miners processed the ore themselves using mercury.
The planetGOLD project in Ecuador is working to persuade miners of the benefits: they can avoid exposing themselves and others to toxic mercury, save time in their work days, and bring home more income to support themselves and their families. Learn how this mineral sales strategy works in this episode of Dispatches From the Field.
Episode 12: Training gold miners to eliminate toxic mercury in Burkina Faso
Angèle Delo began panning with mercury in her town in southeastern Burkina Faso at the age of 12. Now she is one of 116 miners who are newly equipped with skills to process ore without the use of this toxic metal, thanks to a new vocational training program developed by planetGOLD Burkina Faso.
Angele plans to not only use this training for her own work, but to also raise awareness among her fellow women miners, especially in the town of Poura where many women still work using mercury. Meet Angele and learn more about the vocational training in this episode.
To catch the next episode in this series, be sure to subscribe to planetGOLD's YouTube channel to follow miners and teams from planetGOLD countries around the world on their journey to making mercury history in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.