The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) will soon begin research on mercury sources as well as its use in Guyana.

In an ad in the newspapers, the GGMC advised that through funding provided by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas, it is seeking the services of a short-term consultant to undertake research into the various sources from which mercury enters Guyana as well as its distribution networks and use in the small and medium-scale gold mining sector.

Mercury is widely used here in the amalgamating of gold and poses serious health risks if not properly used. Bans on its trade have been instituted by the US and the European Union. Local miners have pleaded with the government to ensure that they will still have access to mercury as the international community moves to regulate the trade. In May, the WWF, to assist Guyana in attaining its objective for mercury-free mining, had donated US$60,000 or $12 million to facilitate training and awareness.

Stabroek News was told that the study would focus on the use of mercury in the country as the sources are known to a large extent with Guyana importing from Central America, Europe and China. Executive Coordinator of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) Colin Sparman said that there is no smuggling of mercury into Guyana. “It’s very likely there is smuggling out,” he said pointing out that Suriname has prohibited mercury in that country. Miners in Suriname still use mercury despite the ban.

He said that the study would focus on tracing the mercury from the sources to how it is used in Guyana. According to mining regulations, miners are supposed to keep a record of the mercury they use and have a retort.

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