Global Mercury Project
Introduction and Background
The Global Mercury Project (GMP) is a five-country project, assisting communities along key trans-boundary rivers and lakes in assessing the pollution from current activities to reduce health hazards, introducing cleaner gold mining and extraction technologies to minimize or eliminate mercury releases and develop the capacity and regulatory mechanisms that will enable the sector to minimize negative environmental aspects. The project aims as well at increasing the knowledge and awareness of miners, government institutions and the public at large on the environmental impacts associated with the application of current technologies. This will be enhanced through introduction of cleaner and efficient technology that apart from minimizing negative environmental impacts will improve earnings, health and safety.
In Tanzania, the GMP was initiated in 2002 in Geita District and is now in the final phase of implementation. Accomplishments to this point include sociological, environmental and health assessments related to mercury released in project sites as well as building the capacity in local laboratories to assess the flow of mercury through diverse ecosystems and the impact of mercury pollution. A micro-credit study was also undertaken to identify ways to overcome financial barriers and recommendations were submitted to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals to support the strengthening of the national regulatory mechanism. During the assessments, it was identified that the principal barrier to the introduction of cleaner gold practices are the lack of awareness of the danger of mercury amalgamation amongst miners, their communities and various stakeholders as well as the lack of access to alternative technologies.
Awareness campaign and technology demonstration
Building upon its achievements the GMP has implemented a program of education and awareness and introducing miners to a range of affordable mineral processing technologies. Reflecting the migrant nature of many artisanal mining communities, a Transportable Demonstration Unit (TDU) containing a selection of cleaner gold processing options and educational materials was introduced in March 2007. The TDU provides a multi-purpose forum for community demonstration and training. While cleaner and affordable technologies are on display, local medical and mines officers, appropriately trained, will raise awareness among the communities on the impact of mercury on health and environment and how to use mercury properly.
Plan for future activities
A second phase of the project is planned starting January 2008 to build on the ongoing activities. Depending on confirmation of further financial commitment, the project could be upgraded to a 5-year intervention.