Government asked to urgently ban use of mercury in gold mining

By Ritah Kemigisa

The Government has been asked to urgently address the factors that have led to continued exposure of Artisanal Small Scale Gold Miners to the dangers of using mercury in extraction of gold.

The call is made by the Action Coalition on Climate Change following release of its study findings about the status and extent of mercury use, sources, knowledge, attitude and perceptions of artisanal miners and the nearby communities.

Presenting the report in Kampala this morning, Mr.Enock Nimpamya, the Coalition’s Director Research and Administration said the findings reveal gross lack of awareness and skills for use of alternative gold mining technologies.

The study also reveals that uncontrolled use of mercury in Uganda’s artisanal and small scale going mining sites particularly in Mubende and Busia is worsened by the lack of awareness on how to use other extraction alternatives to mercy.

Mr.Nimpamya says that besides not being easily available, the cost of these alternatives is also prohibitive.

The coalition is thus asking government to actualize the recommendations of the Minamata Convention on banning use of mercury by artisanal miners by 2020.

The coalition has also challenged Members of Parliament in the affected districts to take the lead in pushing for amendment of the National Environment Bill to include the ban on mercury use and make available affordable alternatives to mercury and other mercury-free technologies.

These, Mr. Nimpamya says do not require heavy investment and are environmentally free.

While officially launching the report at Grand Global Hotel in Kampala, the Minister of State for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris made a commitment that government would study the findings and to continue working with the coalition and other stakeholders to ensure its recommendations are fully implemented.

“I shall twin you with the technocratic staff of the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for collaborative engagement in pursuit of the good practices needed in the mining sector”, the minister said.