FFE Magazine

Eco-friendly Technology for Gold Mining Developed in the Philippines

By FFE EU News staff

While numerous mining companies in first world countries are looking for ways on how to mitigate their environmental impact, small scale miners in a Philippine province in the north has been using a mining process which does not require mercury for several years now.

It’s all in the ore-grinding process, Leoncio Na-oy, a member of these small-scale miners in Benguet, states. After the rocks are ground to get the ore, it goes through a sluice box before it goes into the chute.

Controlled water flow is required while the crushing and washing of the rocks are done so that the ore can be seen immediately among the sand and silt.

What’s most interesting about this method is that it is no rocket science. They do not make use of any expensive equipment nor does the process involve mercury substitute. The best thing about it is that it is more profitable since it yields better grades in terms of their product which is gold.

And it does make sense, Mr. Na-oy adds, since their ancestors who mined the area thousands of years ago never made use of mercury. They didn’t even know what it was.

Mercury was only brought into play in the province during the ‘70s, when larger mining companies came into the picture. Although it became very popular a decade after their emergence, small-scale miners such as Na-oy still did not use this very toxic chemical.

Na-oy, a history graduate in a local university, worked as a miner because he couldn’t find a job after he graduated in 1987. His efforts and his appreciation of the local methods proved to be rewarding.

Because of its sheer genius and utter simplicity, Peter W.U. Appel, a Danish scientist, started working with Na-oy. Appel figured out a way to improve this traditional mining process.

The two collaborated and came up with “How to Mitigate Mercury Pollution in Tanzania”, after they introduced the mercury-free mining system to Tanzanian small-scale miners in 2010. The Journal of Environment Protection published this paper very recently.

Now, Na-oy and Rudy Onos, another small-scale miner from his province, are going to Indonesia to share their knowledge about this safe and more lucrative mining technique. He is also scheduled to go to Bolivia, Peru and Ghana, among others, to talk about the old Benguet mining method.

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