EPA holds dialogue on use of mercury in gold processing 

By Hafsa Obeng 

Accra, May 22, GNA – The Environmental Protection Agency, through the GEF-funded planetGOLD Ghana project, has organized a dialogue session with key stakeholders and Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining (ASGM) value chain actors on the use of mercury in gold processing. 

The dialogue, which was organised in Prestea Huni Valley and Wassa Amenfi West project districts, was an initiative to promote the transition to mercury-free technologies in the ASGM sector,  an initiative anchored in Ghana’s commitments under the Minamata Convention. 

Mr Lovelace Sarpong, Project Coordinator, said ASGM had long grappled with the use of mercury in gold processing.  

He said while mercury had traditionally been utilized to extract gold from ore due to its effectiveness, its toxic properties posed serious risks to human health and the environment. 

He said it was therefore imperative to prioritize the development of a sustainable community of practice for  

ASGM through multi-stakeholder partnerships. 

These partnerships, he said, would support the uptake of mercury-free technologies, and promote responsible mining for the protection of public health and the environment. 

He said the planetGOLD Ghana project, aimed at a significant reduction and possible elimination of mercury use in ASGM through cleaner mining practices and the adoption of mercury-free technologies in the sector. 

“It will promote financial inclusion and strengthen national and jurisdictional capacity to enhance Ghana’s compliance with the Minamata Convention.” 

Mr Sarpong noted that the project would build the capacity of mining entities, particularly on the CRAFT Code (The Code of Risk Mitigation for ASM engaging in Formal Trade), to enhance their participation in and access to the international gold market. 

He underscored the importance of mainstreaming gender in all project activities, saying the project would contribute to empowering women and promoting gender equality in ASGM, as they were vital components of responsible mining practices. 

He said the project would seek to address the specific needs and contributions of women to enhance social license, and inclusiveness and contribute to sustainable outcomes for  

communities and the environment, particularly in the pilot districts. 

The Project Coordinator said the project would also work with value chain actors and stakeholders, especially the media, to change the narrative around ASGM, improve public perception with the view to attract the much-needed national policy support, and enhance investor confidence and access to finance by miners.  

Senior government officials and community leaders, who also spoke at the dialogue sessions, embraced the project and expressed their commitment to its implementation, recognizing its potential to further sustainable ASGM practices within the pilot districts.