Mercury in Gold Mining in Africa

(Sarcasm alert)

"It's Ok!  It's recycled mercury, from USA lamp recycling.  We're using it to get virgin gold, not recycled gold!  USA lamp recycling (mercury retort) is all sold to us to get gold from rivers.  That's good!"

"It would be bad if we were getting value out of waste.  We get value out of rivers."

"And we don't have to work in a repair job."

Never mind THOSE poisoned children. (article on mercury poisoning of fish from African rivers)  The NGOs didn't photograph THEM.

(Link above to press release on mercury poisoning in African rivers, contaminating fish cultures and fish ponds established by Peace Corps volunteers like myself in the 1980s).

Mercury is used to mine gold.  News alert - it's far, far, far worse than gold extraction from aqua regia "acid baths", which I've never seen or heard of in Africa.   But all the policy debate is about how Africans "might" use acid baths for circuit boards, while in actuality, Africa is the final resting point for mercury which American recyclers spend billions of dollars to divert from our RCRA landfills.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Jungle Gold, Gungle Jold.  We poison children with mercury taken from recycled lamps.

I write about this obsessively because our obsession with "waste" and "recycling" has created victims we environmentalists are responsible for.  When we divert "leaded solder" from our landfills by mining "non-toxic tin" as a replacement from Indonesian coral reefs, and when we divert "fluorescent mercury lamps" from our landfills by retorting mercury sold as a commodity to African river mining, we do this.

Western medicine is probably the best in the world.  But it got where it is today through dialectic, through debate, through rigorous testing.  It began with alchemy, and at one time liquid mercury was sold as a laxative.  As the study of human health matured, we realized that what was good for our bowel movements wasn't right for holistic human health.

We need to learn the same thing about our obsessions with "waste" in holistic environmental health.

No comments: