Mercury: An agent of poverty in Ghana's small-scale gold-mining sector?
Hilson, G. and Pardie, S. (2006) Mercury: An agent of poverty in Ghana's small-scale gold-mining sector? Resources Policy, 31 (2). pp. 106-116. ISSN 0301-4207
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2006.09.001
There is consensus worldwide that the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is comprised of individuals who are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, lacking the necessary financial and technological means to improve their standards of living. Minimal work, however, has been undertaken to identify the very factors behind miners' plight, which inevitably vary from country to country. This paper uses a case study of Ghana to argue that an increased dependence upon mercury for amalgamation In artisanal gold-mining communities is one such-albeit overlooked-"agent of poverty". There is mounting empirical evidence which suggests that dealings with the monoponistic middlemen who supply mercury, purchases of costly medicines to remedy ailments caused by mercury poisoning, and a lack of appropriate safeguards and alternatives to amalgamation, are preventing gold miners from improving their practices and livelihoods. The solution to the problem lies in breaking this cycle of dependency, which can be achieved by providing miners with robust support services, mercury-free technologies and education. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.