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What methods were used to mine gold?

Gold is mined using four different methods. Placer mining, hard rock mining, byproduct mining and by processing gold ore.

How was gold mined in ancient times?

During these ancient times, gold was mined from alluvial placers—that is, particles of elemental gold found in river sands. The gold was concentrated by washing away the lighter river sands with water, leaving behind the dense gold particles, which could then be further concentrated by melting.

What is meant by artisanal mining?

Broadly speaking, artisanal and small-scale mining refers to mining by individuals, groups, families or cooperatives with minimal or no mechanization, often in the informal (illegal) sector of the market. Despite many attempts, a common definition of ASM has yet to be established.

What is artisanal and small-scale gold mining?

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is defined in the Minamata Convention on Mercury as “gold mining conducted by individual miners or small enterprises with limited capital investment and production” (United Nations Environment Programme, 2014).

How is mercury used in artisanal gold mining?

In mines, mercury is used to recover minute pieces of gold that is mixed in soil and sediments. Mercury and gold settle and combine together to form an amalgam. Gold is then extracted by vaporizing the mercury. Prolonged and high exposure to mercury by inhalation damages the nervous, digestive, and immune systems.

Where does artisanal mining extract resources from?

Artisanal and small-scale mining, or ASM, is a largely informal economic sector that includes workers around the world who use basic tools to extract from the earth everything from gold and gemstones to vital metals such as cobalt, tin, tungsten and tantalum. ASM is important for several reasons.

What is artisanal cobalt mining?

Artisanal miners extract cobalt by hand in precarious conditions, often working on illegal or only semi-regulated sites. Most of this material is bought by Chinese traders and sold on to refiners in China.

How does artisanal gold mining affect the environment?

Artisanal gold mining releases mercury into the environment in its metallic form during amalgamation and as mercury vapor during the burning process. When metallic mercury is used to concentrate the gold, small amounts can be washed out along with the unwanted tailings or sediments.

What are the different methods of gold mining?

In gold mining, artisanal miners use different methods depending on the equipment available to them. Some of the common artisanal mining includes: This is a mining method that employs the processes that increase the concentration of gold in the ore by selectively removing the lighter materials.

How is mercury used in small scale gold mining?

Mercury-Free Concentration Methods. In many countries, elemental mercury is used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Mercury is mixed with gold-containing materials, forming a mercury-gold amalgam which is then heated, vaporizing the mercury to obtain the gold.

What kind of chemicals are used in artisanal mining?

Artisanal mining operations often cut down trees to clear space for their camps, and it is common for miners to hunt, fish, and collect other forest resources for food and medicine, or as a way to supplement their income. Mercury and other dangerous chemicals, such as cyanide, are commonly used in artisanal gold mining.