In the Philippines an estimated 600.000 small-scale miners extract gold using mercury. During that process the miners release many tons of mercury annually. This is a major contribution to the mercury pollution of our planet. This has severe local consequences, but also global impact since the mercury released in the Philippines is spread all over the planet by the atmosphere.

Geological Survey of Greenland (GGU) developed an interest in participating in the global efforts to reduce mercury pollution of planet Earth. In 2004 Peter Appel participated in a conference on small-scale mining in Manila. In 2005 donor organisations like World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others arranged an exhibition in one of the big Malls of Manila. Groups were invited to promote their ideas from small stands. During the conference the ideas presented were evaluated by a committee and the different donors each selected their winner. World Bank selected the stand by GGU and Emy Peres, a local counterpart. The theme of the GGU stand was a way to reduce mercury release to the environment from small-scale gold mining The price was used the following year for a campaign in Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao in small-scale mining communities. The miners were taught to recycle mercury instead of releasing it directly to the environment.

The success lead to involvement in different small-scale mining projects during the period 2007 to 2009 by GGU later merged with the Danish Geological Survey to Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). Late 2009 the Danish NGO Dialogos got involved and from 2010 Dialogos jointly with GEUS carried out very successful projects in Philippines teaching small-scale gold miners mercury-free gold extraction. One of the most successful campaigns took place in Gaang Northern Luzon where 1800 small-scale gold miners have stopped using mercury for gold extraction.

An educational video describing the mercury-free gold extraction method for small-scale miners can be viewed on Youtube in EnglishSpanishFrench and Indonesian.

Køster-Rasmussen, R., Westergaard, M. L., Brasholt, M., Gutierrez, R., Jørs, E., Thomsen, J. F. 2016. Mercury pollution from small-scale gold mining can be stopped by implementing the gravity-borax method – a two-year follow-up study from two mining communities in the Philippines. Submitted to: New Solutions.. Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Vol 25(4) 567-587.