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Experts demand action on dangerous mercury use in gold mining

Health experts have called for urgent moves to develop a national action plan to curb use of mercury in gold mining.

Mercury is widely used in small-scale gold mining and is considered dangerous. Its use in artisanal mining leaves the chemical in the atmosphere, posing great dangers to humans.

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The National Consultant Public Health and Environment (PHE),World Health Organization,  Dr Edwin Edeh, gave the indication at a sensitisation meeting themed, “Strengthening Partnerships for Public Health Assessment and Awareness on Artisanal Small Scale Gold Mining” (ASGM) in Minna.

According to Edeh, the National Action Plan will help will to identify challenges, and other issues faced by gold miners in the sector.

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“Even though   the sector’s activities are money-spinning, they are equally fraught with monumental health hazards due to the uncontrolled use of mercury in mining processes by peasant miners.

“We are calling on relevant ministries to proffer workable solutions that will help mitigate the adverse impacts of poisonous chemicals on the people.”

He also informed the audience that 70 countries across the world are actively involved in artisanal gold-mining industry, noting that, the sector also contributes to about 35 percent global gold production.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr Astrid Knoblauch of the Switzerland’s Tropical and Public Health Institute Basel, said it is gratifying to note that Nigeria is taking necessary measures to reduce the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining activities.

She disclosed that WHO has developed a framework comprising a suite of tools to support the development of public health strategies on artisanal and small scale mining ASGM.

“Part of the rapid health situation assessment is to describe the capacity and readiness of the health system and qualification of health care providers to address health problems specific to artisanal and small-scale gold miners, their families and the broader communities.”

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