Mercury Free Mining Challenge
Transforming artisanal & small scale gold mining for the health of the world.

WHY MERCURY?

Toxic Mercury

Virtually everyone knows that if you're pregnant or nursing, it's a really bad idea to eat a lot of fish, especially big fish like tuna. Why? Because fish like tuna and swordfish have the highest concentration of methylmercury, the most toxic form of the metal, in our food supply chain.

Global mercury pollution is one of the greatest threats society faces today, affecting every community in every part of our world as mercury never breaks down to a non-toxic state. Methylmercury is a highly potent neurotoxin that impacts the function and development of the central and peripheral nervous systems in both people and wildlife. Exposure to mercury is particularly dangerous for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children, since mercury is most harmful in the early stages of development.

Mercury has played an essential, if not efficient, role in gold recovery for much of history. While industrial gold operations no longer depend on its use, artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) remain tied to its use for lack of a healthier, cost effective and more efficient alternative. For millennia mercury has been indispensable to ASGM as it allows them to isolate gold in their mining process. Liquid mercury is added to the crushed ore where it binds with tiny particles of gold then is clumped into amalgamated pellets that workers heat, vaporizing the potent neurotoxin mercury into the atmosphere, leaving behind the more concentrated gold.  By current estimates, more than 1,400 tons of toxic mercury are dumped into the environment every year by 14-19 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) working in developing countries. That's roughly 8,000 pounds being added into our biosphere every day. For the majority of these artisans, they have no choice but to use this toxic substance in order to earn a living.

We believe there is a better way, and with your help, we are going to find it.