The real impact of mercury-reducing technology in small-scale gold mining

Sept 10 
2min read

Evidence of the very real difference that the Impact Facility is making in mining communities across the world comes from Cyrus Maina, our regional manager in East Africa in charge of equipment installations and mine engagement. 

Cyrus has just returned from Geita in Tanzania where he helped a local gold mine – Nsangano Mine – secure much-needed technical equipment. Cyrus himself was part of the onsite team that installed the mine’s new gravity-based ore processing circuit. Comprised of  a centrifuge and a shaking table, this simple yet often, for small-scale mines, inaccessible innovation much reduces the need for mercury while increasing the recovery rate of gold to as much as 95% – about twice as much as traditional gold ore processing methods.

Central to our approach of facilitating access to technical support and financial capital, the Impact Facility provided mine Nsangano Mine with this essential piece of equipment on a lease to purchase agreement, trained mine employees to use it, and will provide open-ended support to ensure their ongoing commitment. The ASMO will pay off the cost of the equipment over a period of time and will likely start to enjoy an uplift in gold recovery rate almost immediately. 

Along with a profitability boost benefitting the entire community, reducing the need for mercury meets the very important objectives of the Minamata Convention. This multi-national agreement seeks to protect human health and the environment by addressing activities – like small-scale gold mining – that are contributing to widespread mercury pollution.

Nsangano Mine has already made huge strides in improving health and social standards for its employees and within the local community due to its long-standing relationship with Fairtrade Africa, and has been part of our Lake Victoria Gold Programme  for several years. Renatus tells us that he is happy to be working with the Impact Facility and is planning to start exporting his gold through us in the 2020.

Just a few days after the installation of the processing circuit, Nsangano Mine was visited by the honourable  Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Ambassador Zachary Muburi-Muita – indicative of the significance of this effort – along with a mineral audit committee from the ICGLR, an intergovernmental organisation of African countries that promotes peace and economic development in the African Great Lakes Region. 

The group was extremely impressed to see the new gold processing circuit in action. As Cyrus commented, “I had the opportunity to showcase the technology aimed at being an alternative to mercury processing. They were very impressed. They also got the chance to know who the Impact Facility are!”

To see a short clip of Cyrus’ presentation see: https://twitter.com/i/status/1170945677142237185