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BAGUIO CITY: The shift to more environment-friendly mining at the Gaang Mines in Balbalan town, Kalinga has led to the reduced volume of mercury contamination in the Chico River.
At least 70 percent of the 1,200 small scale miners at the Gaang Mines have changed their method of gold extraction, hence, mining’s immediate mercury contribution to water pollution is now decreasing, said lawyer Richard Gutierrez, executive director of the Ban Toxics (Bantox) group.
Citing its report, Bantox earlier said Chico River had high mercury content.
“Assuming that each miner uses one kilo of mercury a month, we could imagine the volume of mercury that the whole mine is using every year,” Gutierrez said.He added that the water pollution has significantly reduced.
The improved situation came after the local group Banao Bodong Association forged a memorandum of understanding with Bantox to improve the mining practices in Gaang to help miners transition from mercury to toxic- free methods.
Although Gutierrez said they welcome the improved the condition of the river, he added that the campaign should be sustained.
Another challenge is to determine the level of mercury contamination and its effect on miners. Bantox said miners who are constantly exposed to the chemical are at risk of health problems later on in their lives.
Bantox has engaged local partners in training and tapping local health workers to aid in the information campaign and finding out the level of contamination of selected miners.
Bantox is an independent non-profit, environmental organization that is devoted to preventing toxic trade from - wastes, goods, and technology.
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