Keywords: mercury exports, export ban, gold mining, artisanal mining, developing countries, Ghana, small-scale mining, gold mining, environment, environmental pollution, human health, health risks
Potential repercussions of a mercury ban on the artisanal and small-scale gold-mining sector: a viewpoint
The ban imposed on exports of mercury from Europe and North America is a decision made in response to growing recognition that contamination from extensive emissions of the element in developing countries needs to be tackled more proactively. Stemming its flow to Artisanal and Small-scale gold Mining (ASM) – the largest user and emitter of mercury – has been identified as a key objective of the ban. It is argued that while the motivations underlying the ban are no doubt honourable, it is not a ruling that Western states are in a logistical or moral position to impose. It may not be the most constructive approach to tackling the mercury pollution problem in the sector; nor may it be in the best interest of the industry's participants.