Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

Welcome Note: Women and Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining - Mercury and More

Magazine article Women & Environments International Magazine

Welcome Note: Women and Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining - Mercury and More

Article excerpt

The Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury welcomes the special issue of Women and Environments International magazine on Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM): Women and Health. It is a great opportunity to highlight problems associated with mercury exposure and solutions to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury in ASGM.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is more than an occupation in many areas of the world. In many communities, mining is a way of life, an activity which can involve the whole family. For some, it is a means of survival; in battling against starvation, mining is the activity that puts food on the table. In other communities, mining may be a means of betterment, a way to improve their quality of life, so their children have a brighter future.

However, when artisanal and small-scale gold mining involves the use of mercury, families may unwittingly be stifling their children's futures. Women involved in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, particularly in activities relating to the handling of mercury or the roasting of amalgam, may be exposed to mercury at levels which will lead to effects on the unborn and to very young children. These can include lifelong effects on their intelligence and their neurological development, and may result in permanent damage to their ability to learn and may stunt their full potential.

Under the Minamata Convention, the initial reduction and eventual elimination of the use of mercury, as well as emissions and releases of mercury to the environment, from artisanal and small-scale gold mining and processing, is a key obligation. …

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