Gold Board ‘lab’ staff being tested weekly for mercury poisoning
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A gold cube on display at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) booth at the recently held Mining Expo
A gold cube on display at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) booth at the recently held Mining Expo

GIVEN that mercury is in all the gold it receives, the Guyana Gold Board’s laboratory staff are tested twice per week for the presence of the toxic metal in their bodies.
This is according to the assistant head of the laboratory, Chandradat Persaud, who spoke to the Guyana Chronicle at the Mining Expo which was recently held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

He said that gold miners are able to visit the laboratory to have their gold tested and refined after extraction.
Persaud emphasised that almost all of the gold that is brought has mercury present and as such all employees are equipped with safety gear and are given urine and blood tests at least twice a week to check their mercury levels.

He added that if safety precautions are not maintained, employees will become exposed to several health risks including memory loss, decreased vision, decreased hearing and the poor control of hands and feet.
“Quicksilver” as it is commonly known, has long been a key component in the extraction of gold. This liquid metal is mixed with ore containing gold to form an amalgam, following which the unwanted material is washed away. The amalgam is then heated to burn off the mercury, and the gold is left behind.

Mercury is one of the most poisonous substances on earth, and its effects on human health and the environment are catastrophic.
In 2018, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) began making the gold cube — a unique piece of gold prospecting equipment — available to miners at its Brickdam location at a cost of US$400 (approximately G$80,000).

As the world prepares for the phasing out of mercury use by 2027, this equipment is said to be the safest way to extract gold.
During the Mining Expo, a gold cube was on display and officials were on hand to demonstrate how it works.
(Story by Onessa Brotherson, Qaaim Fordyce, Steve Sookraj and Fayon Williams)

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