Test of mercury free technology in Puno, Peru

Towards Responsible Small-scale Mining

Photo story looks at mercury-free technologies and the path to responsible ASGM in Puno, Peru




In the Ananea district of Puno, high in Peru's snow-capped Andes mountains, artisanal & small-scale gold mining is the largest source of local work. Gold mining in this region is characterized by its community, with a strong presence of cooperatives and associations. According to data from the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Puno region has registered more than 12,500 artisanal and small-scale mining organizations in the process of formalization.

There is also a strong presence of mercury. Although the use of retorts has spread among mining cooperatives, the practice of open-air heating of gold and mercury amalgams is still common. Elvis Macedo, the Occupational Health, Safety & Environmental Manager for Cooperativa Minera Oro Sur, says mining organizations use the toxic chemical “because so far mercury has not been replaced with another more effective substance that helps in the recovery of gold in mining.”

This is a situation that the planetGOLD Peru project is working to change. With the understanding that exposure to mercury by both miners and communities can be reduced and avoided with alternative mercury-free technologies, which can be simple and effective, the planetGOLD Peru team recently collaborated with another GEF-funded initiative, the GIRH-TDPS project, to organize equipment and technology tests in the Ananea district.

In a new photo story, get a glimpse of the mercury-free equipment and technologies these teams tested to help show local mining organizations the way forward toward a more responsible artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector.

Click below to view the full story in English or Spanish.

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