Minam, Minem and UNDP, through the planetGOLD Peru project, delivered 5 mercury-free gold processing plants to artisanal miners in Arequipa region.
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) represents an important source of work in rural areas. In Peru, the activity gives direct and indirect employment to 1 million people. However, it is the main source of mercury emissions and releases on the planet. This metallic substance is toxic to human health and the environment.
Faced with this problem, the Peruvian State, as a signatory to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, together with the United Nations promote various actions to reduce and eliminate the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
The Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MINEM) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through the planetGOLD Peru project, inaugurated 5 plants to process gold without mercury in San José, a town located in the South of the country (district of Mariano Nicolás Valcarcel in Arequipa region).
During the ceremony, Luis Guillen, Director of Environmental Quality of MINAM, highlighted the ministry's commitment to promoting better environmental practices and compliance with the Minamata agreement on mercury. Along these lines, he pointed out that "the planetGOLD Peru project really has an encouraging scope because it avoids the use of mercury through actions with better conditions, for caring the environment and reducing costs with more efficient technologies."
The plants were delivered to the project partners of La Nueva Victoria Mining Company, who through the gravimetric table and the recirculation of water will be able to reduce annually in their production processes 90% of the 260 kg of mercury that they emit and release to the atmosphere with the “quimbaletes”. In addition, the miners will continue receiving technical advice in the following months for the optimization and learning of the use of the gravimetric plant for better gold recovery. The equipment will benefit both miners and women mineral selectors.
In this regard, Oscar Bravo, Coordinator of Social Affairs in Mining Formalization of MINEM, congratulated the diffusion of new technologies for gold processing among artisanal and small-scale miners. “We hope it can be replicated in other areas of the country, we consider that the use of this plant is an example for other miners to be interested in these lessons and equipment; to produce in another way that generates value, especially because with this change we all bet for a more responsible mining, turning it into a clean social activity”, he emphasized.
The event was held on April 27th at the La Nueva Victoria mining camp, with the participation of officials from MINAM, MINEM, UNDP, the Regional Government of Arequipa, and the Municipality of La Eugenia. As part of the activities, it was held a demonstration of the plants' operation and a dialogue time between miners of the La Nueva Victoria mining company, women of the Association of Mineral Selectors of Katarata, and officials.
For his part, Yakir Rozas, Regional Manager of Energy and Mines of the Regional Government of Arequipa, expressed his feelings towards mining work and congratulated miners for their openness to train and improve their practices. Likewise, he recognized that the Regional Energy and Mines Management will continue supporting initiatives that provide technical assistance to the mining sector.
Finally, Jorge Álvarez, Environmental Sustainability Program Officer of UNDP, thanked miners and women mineral selectors for their willingness to improve the ASGM sector. “By adopting these responsible practices, they are promoting sustainable development in mining communities while contributing to the protection of planetary health.”