Successful implementation of mercury-free gold extraction for small-scale gold miners

Gold extraction has been carried out for more than a thousand years by small-scale miners. Mercury amalgam is the most commonly employed method to separate gold from the ore. Whole ore processing and the burning of the amalgam results in very high exposures to miners and significant mercury pollution. Thirty-seven percent of global mercury emissions are estimated to result from small-scale gold mining. Mercury-free gold extraction for small-scale gold miners has been used for more than 25 years in Philippines. The borax mercury-free gold extraction method has obvious environmental benefits, but has also been shown to recover up to fifty percent more gold than the traditional amalgamation method. Projects demonstrating mercury-free gold extraction have been carried out in Philippines, Uganda, Mozambique, Mongolia and Peru. In Mozambique mercury-free gold extraction recovered 74 percent more gold than the amalgam method. In January 2019, a project was carried out in Uganda demonstrating that Mercury-free gold extraction required 10 percent longer processing time, but recovered 40% more gold than traditional amalgamation method.


About AppelGlobal

AppelGlobal was established shortly after turn of the century with main focus on reducing global mercury pollution. Two-fold action is applied:

  • Teaching small-scale gold miners to extract gold using the Philippines mercury-free method in cooperation with Emerald Cooperation of small-scale gold miners, Philippines.
  • Explore ways to clean the hundreds of thousand mercury polluted mine tailings from small-scale gold mining littering planet Earth.

AppelGlobal’s expertise is based on work carried out during more than ten years. That work comprised a broad spectrum of problems:

  • Environmental hazards caused by small-scale mining
  • Health hazards caused by small-scale mining
  • Conflict resolution between small-scale miners, commercial mining companies and governments

Much work has aimed at fulfilling governmental obligations to follow the Minamata Convention. The work has been carried out in more than 20 countries in southeast Asia, Africa, South- and Central America.

The work has been sponsored by World Bank, European Union, US Department of State, Danish Ministry of Environment and Sumitomo Foundation Japan.


Small-scale mine tailings in a table spoon. Shiny dots are mercury flour

Small-scale mine tailings in a table spoon. Shiny dots are mercury flour