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Mercury Poisoning Happens Every Day In Africa

Mercury Environment Poisoning.

Exposure to mercury even in small amounts may cause serious health problems as in the case of Minamata disease.

Mining for gold in Mali Africa

Mercury Poisoning Happens Every Day In Africa

Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

Mercury is a chemical element with symbol Hg and atomic number 80. Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern.

What is the Minamata Convention on Mercury?

Minamata disease is a debilitating neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. The serious health and environmental effects resulting from the mercury pollution, and the need to ensure proper management of mercury gave birth to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. 

The objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is to protect the human health and the environment and releases of mercury and mercury compounds into the ground, air and water environment.

Minamata Convention on Mercury addresses the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and, through them, future generations and contamination of the environment for decades.

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining

Mercury occurs naturally in the earth's crust and is released into the environment from volcanic activity, weathering of rocks and human activity. Human activity is the main cause of mercury releases as a result of mining for mercury, gold and other metals and many other factors.

Artisanal and Small-scale mining (ASM) refers to unlawful mining in Africa and other countries by miners using low technology or minimal mining machinery usually under dangerous conditions. The Minamata Convention on Mercury action plan on Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is to eliminate:

1. Whole ore amalgamation

2. Open burning of amalgam or processed amalgam

3. Burning of amalgam in residential areas

4.Cyanide leaching in sediment, ore or tailings to which mercury has been added without first removing the mercury

Madagascar small scale gold mining

In addition to facilitating the formalization or regulation of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector, keeping statistics on the quantities of mercury used and the practices employed in artisanal and small-scale gold mining and processing within its territory, creating a public health policy on the exposure of artisanal and small-scale gold miners and their communities to mercury.

Since ASM's are unlicensed, they are not regulated and health and safety issues, pollution to the environment, and child labor are chief concerns. Accidents and injuries from mining in unsafe tunnels, unprotected open pits and use of explosives lead to severe and fatal accidents. Chemical exposure and limited access to safety equipment are a day-to-day risk for poor miners.

Mining Africa's Health

Minamata Convention on Mercury was held in Kumamoto, Japan on October 10, 2013 and on August 16, 2017, entered into force. The following African Countries have signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury:

Mining Africa's Health The Minamata Convention on Mercury
African Country Signature Date

Algeria

No data

Angola

11 Oct 2013 

Benin

10 Oct 2013 

Botswana

No data

Burkina Faso

10 Oct 2013 

Burundi

14 Feb 2014 

Cameroon

24 Sep 2014 

Central African Republic

10 Oct 2013 

Chad

25 Sep 2014 

Congo

 8 Oct 2014 

Côte d'Ivoire

10 Oct 2013 

Democratic Republic of the Congo

No data

Djibouti

10 Oct 2013 

Egypt

No data

Equatorial Guinea

No data

Eritrea

No data

Ethiopia

10 Oct 2013 

Gabon

30 Jun 2014 

Gambia

10 Oct 2013 

Ghana

24 Sep 2014 

Guinea

25 Nov 2013 

Guinea-Bissau

24 Sep 2014 

Kenya

10 Oct 2013 

Lesotho

No data

Liberia

24 Sep 2014 

Libya

10 Oct 2013 

Madagascar

10 Oct 2013 

Malawi

10 Oct 2013 

Mali

10 Oct 2013 

Mauritania

11 Oct 2013 

Mauritius

10 Oct 2013 

Morocco

 6 Jun 2014 

Mozambique

10 Oct 2013 

Namibia

No data

Niger

10 Oct 2013 

Nigeria

10 Oct 2013 

Republic of Cabo Verde

No data

Rwanda

No data

Sao Tome and Principe

No data

Senegal

11 Oct 2013 

Seychelles

27 May 2014 

Sierra Leone

12 Aug 2014 

Somalia

No data

South Africa

10 Oct 2013 

South Sudan

No data

Sudan

24 Sep 2014 

Swaziland

No data

Togo

10 Oct 2013 

Tunisia

10 Oct 2013 

Uganda

10 Oct 2013 

United Republic of Tanzania

10 Oct 2013 

Zambia

10 Oct 2013 

Zimbabwe

11 Oct 2013 

Did you know? Mercury is contained in many products, including batteries, thermometers and barometers, electric switches and relays in equipment Lamps including some types of light bulbs, dental amalgam for dental fillings, skin-lightening products and other cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.


Below are more links to gold mining articles you will find thought provoking.

  1. Gold Mining the Devils Office South Africa
  2. Gold Mining and Gangs in Nigeria
  3. Gold causes lead poisoning in African children
  4. Artisanal and Small-scale mining


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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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