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Title: Environment, health and mercury pollution in the small-scale gold mining industry
Author: Clifford, Martin John
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2012
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The extensive use of mercury, a persistent contaminant, in the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector is a growing environmental issue. Mounting concern over findings which point to the widespread use of mercury to amalgamate gold in ASM having significant environmental and health-related impacts has fuelled the launch of numerous donor-funded and government backed projects aimed at minimising its use. Most have taken the form of educational and technical assistance, implemented specifically to stem emissions from the industry and introduce miners to safer practices. These interventions, however, have had minimal impact. In an attempt to understand why the 'mercury pollution agenda' has yielded so little in the way of improvement, two divergent viewpoints have emerged. The first of these explanations, a view prevalent in donor and regulatory circles, is that miners ignore messages about the dangers of mercury and are reluctant to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. The second body of opinion contests that approaches taken to educate and provide training on mercury management to communities are flawed, failing to take stock of the successful aspects of previous work and sufficiently eng~e target communities. There is insufficient empirical evidence to support either view, however. A broadened understanding of operators' perceptions toward the environmental impacts of amaJgamation is a necessary first step towards improving the policy context for mercury management in the ASM sector. This thesis helps to bridge this gap, focllsing on the case of Ghana, the location of one of the largest ASM industries in sub-Saharan Africa. It determines levels of awareness and prevaJent attitudes towards mercury use amongst small-scale gold miners, capturing a level of detail not yet undertaken. It also identifies barriers that prevent miners from adopting improved mercury management practices. To address these issues, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative analyses were undertaken: interviews with key institutional stakeholders; individual interviews, group discussions and feedback sessions with miners; and an environmental assessment. This research provided a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics of mercury use in Ghana's ASM industry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available