Cleaning mercury polluted rivers

The technique developed and tested in cleaning mercury polluted tailings from small-scale gold mining is presumed applicable in cleaning mercury polluted rivers. On three continents there are numerous rivers draining small-scale gold mining areas. These rivers are heavily polluted with mercury. They channel the mercury out in the oceans with severe implications for health of Planet Earth.

The Danish Ministry of Environmant has rewarded Appelglobal, Elplatek and F.L. Schmidt a large grant to test the technique cleaning mercury polluted rivers. Negations are ongoing with two countries in South America to clean one or two rivers in their territories

Cleaning mercury polluted tailings

The majority of small-scale gold miners use mercury to capture their gold. The mercury is subsequently burned and the gold is ready for selling. However a large part of the mercury cannot be captured by the miners, but end in their tailings and further in the draining systems. This mercury accounts for 37% of the global mercury pollution. Another problem is that the mercury in tailings contain large amounts of gold. Up to 16 gram of gold has been found in tailing dumps. It is a genuine loose – loose situation. Toxic environment and lost income.

In 2014 and 2015 the Danish Ministry of Environment rewarded Appelglobal and Elplatek a grant to test the possibilities of extracting mercury and gold from tailings. The tests were carried out on a processing line constructed by Oro Industries California. An area in Nicaragua was selected for the testing.

The very promising results were published in:

Appel, P. and Esbensen, K.: Reducing mercury pollution with simultaneous gold recovery from small-scale mining tailings. TOS special issue June 2019.