Keywords: mercury, small-scale mining, gold mining, artisanal mining, environment, environmental pollution, human health, health risks, direct smelting, Ghana, mercury-free processing
The identification and testing of a method for mercury-free gold processing for artisanal and small-scale gold miners in Ghana
A study of the ASM sector of Ghana established the practices and attitudes of gold miners and proposed an alternative to mercury amalgamation. The study showed that miners were aware of health hazards associated with mercury but continued to use it because they knew of no credible alternative. It was realised that any process to replace amalgamation must be very efficient to capture gold around 50-100 μm. To be acceptable to the miners the method must be: easy, quick, cheap, transparent and suitable for processing small batches of concentrate. Direct smelting was selected as the technique of choice.