Last updateWed, 17 Sep 2014 11pm

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Campaign to stop mercury use in mining launched

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) and the Philippine government are seeking to eliminate mercury use in artisanal and small-scale mining in the country.

The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR), Unido, non-governmental organization Ban Toxics and the Department of Health (DOH) partnered for a project to eliminate mercury use among small-scale miners.

The project was dubbed “Improve the Health and Environment of Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining [ASGM] Communities in the Philippines by Reducing Mercury Emission.”

The primary aim of the project is to strengthen national capacity to manage mercury by establishing a formal national institution and training of key stakeholders.

“We fully support the Philippines’s efforts to address the issue of mercury use in small-scale mining. This project is a testament to the efforts being undertaken by the Philippines in taking a lead in solving this difficult and complex issue,” Unido representative Ludovic Bernaudat said.

Representatives from the EMB-DENR, the DOH, local government units and small-scale miners groups attended the project’s inception workshop, which concluded on Thursday at the BSA Twin Towers in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Through the project, a national ASGM institution will be established to provide training and certification for miners aiming to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury in their practice.

The project will also develop and deliver health education, techniques and technology-training programs, including early recognition and identification of mercury poisoning at the community level.

“The beneficiaries of this project are the communities around small-scale mining areas. If we are able to change the mining methods, the
approach, and bring a common vision and goal among the miners and the community, Ban Toxics and its partners would have paved the way for a long-term solution to the problem,” Ban Toxics Executive Director Richard Gutierrez said during the project’s inception workshop.

According to a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Program, ASGM is the single-largest mercury-emitting sector in the Philippines, having been recognized to discharge about 70 metric tons, or more than 30 percent, of the country’s annual mercury releases.

Experts said the indiscriminate use of mercury in ASGM contributes to serious long-term environmental and health problems burdened with social, technical and institutional issues, as well as the implementation of regulations.

In 2006 the United Nations reported that miners in the Philippines are found to have mercury levels up to 50 times above World Health Organization limits.





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