Combating mercury use in gold mining remains a challenge: ministry

Combating mercury use in gold mining remains a challenge: ministry

A screenshot of director general of waste, toxic and hazardous materials management (PSLB3) at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, addressing a press conference in Jakarta on Tuesday (October 26, 2021). (ANTARA/Prisca Triferna/KT)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Eradicating the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining (PESK) has remained a challenge, director general of waste, toxic and hazardous materials management (PSLB3) at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Rosa Vivien Ratnawati, said.

"The biggest challenge is in small-scale gold mining," she remarked at a press conference held by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry here on Tuesday.

PESK is one of four sectors the government is focusing on for reducing and eliminating mercury use, she added.

In other sectors such as energy, manufacturing, and health, endeavors such as approaching industry players and offering encouragement to apply different technologies can be taken, she explained.

Meanwhile, many communities in remote areas are involved in the gold mining sector, thus gold mining using mercury is their only livelihood, she noted.

For that reason, the government, through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, has continued to educate communities working in the gold-mining sector about the dangers of mercury, especially in areas that still have many gold-mining locations.

Cooperation with local governments will keep being carried out to reduce the community's utilization of mercury in the gold mining sector, Ratnawati asserted.

According to her, the local authorities are also supporting the eradication of mercury use due to its deteriorating effect on health.

"District heads and governors also have a strong commitment to eliminating mercury use in small-scale gold mining. They do not want their people to be exposed (to mercury)," she expounded.

One of the hazardous effects of being exposed to mercury is that it harms pregnant women and thereby, future generations, she highlighted.

In the small-scale gold mining sector (PESK), the use of mercury was lowered by 10,450 kg in 2019 and 2020, she informed.

Meanwhile, in the manufacturing sector, especially the battery industry, mercury use was successfully reduced by 190.98 kg in 2019 and 219.26 kg in 2020, she added.
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