Millions of people worldwide depend on the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector to make ends meet and support their families. These miners produce roughly 20 percent of the world’s gold each year, but due to limited economic opportunities or a lack of awareness about the dangers, many operations use toxic mercury to extract their gold. This ancient method of gold extraction is leading to grievous environmental and health consequences.
However, an opportunity exists to create a more responsible gold market—one that directly benefits the communities in developing countries that rely on gold mining for their livelihood while simultaneously improving the gold supply chain and eliminating the world's largest source of mercury pollution. In order to tackle the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining and solve other environmental and social challenges, miners need to be supported in the transition, with better access to financing, training, and international markets.
To highlight artisanal and small-scale miners' journey to mercury-free, planetGOLD is launching Dispatches From The Field, a short video series featuring some of the unique stories coming out of the countries where we work.
Each month over the coming year, we’ll dive into some of the obstacles and barriers that miners have faced, while spotlighting champions that are breaking through these challenges to advance responsible mining and make meaningful change on the ground. We aim to ultimately 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.
To kick off the series, we travel to the Philippines where we meet Demver Suzara, a small-scale miner from the municipality of Paracale. Demver is the President of Samahan ng mga Minero sa Barangay Casalugan (SMBC), a mining association that is actively collaborating with the planetGOLD Philippines project to bring cleaner, more efficient small-scale gold mining practices to the province.
Mercury has been used for decades to collect gold in Paracale, but Demver sees a brighter future. He advocates for making his mining community mercury-free and is working with planetGOLD Philippines to install a mercury-free processing system at the 26.5-hectare Minahang Bayan (designated small-scale mining site) in Sitio Maning in Brgy. Casalugan, Paracale.
Meet Demver in episode 1 of Dispatches From The Field:
Join us as we work to demonstrate a pathway to cleaner and more efficient small-scale gold mining practices that benefit everyone, from mine to market.
Subscribe to our channel on YouTube to stay tuned as we follow Demver and others from planetGOLD countries around the world in their journey to mining mercury free!