Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 | By

Artisanal gold miners in Kassanda district in central Uganda are actively embracing Borax use as National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE) steps up efforts to promote mercury free Gold mining.

Ssempala Herbert Edward, the Manager for Kitumbi-Kayonza Miners Association (KKMA) says with several trainings from NAPE on the dangers of mercury, the miners have started changing the mindset to Borax use.

“Miners are now willing to switch to the use of borax an alternative to mercury but we want a permanent trainer here. If NAPE can recommend a trainer who is an expert in Borax use, the association will be able to employ him for a month to acquaint our miners with mercury free methodology skills,” Ssempala said.

Ssempala was speaking at the official launch of the mercury free demonstration site and at the same time receiving a ball mill machine and accessories on behalf of the miners in Kassanda District. The items were delivered by NAPE to be used as a training center for artisanal miners in Borax use in gold mining that is less harmful to human health and the environment on 7th December.

While handing over the machine, Mrs. Carol Aguti, the NAPE Board Member, who represented NAPE said the miners should intensively change their attitude from use of mercury since NAPE has helped to put up a demonstration site.

She said they should use the site to train all the miners on gravity concentration technology and using Borax now that the government is already in the process of phasing out mercury.

“The problem with miners is change of attitude, but what you should know is that it is expensive to treat yourselves but cheap to protect yourselves. So NAPE is here to sensitize you, please sieve this opportunity,” she said.

The Kassanda district Natural Resources Officer, Clare Kamagara said miners should adopt the use of Borax for the good of their health and the environment since its safe and also asked KKMA to emphasize use of protective gears.

She said the miners should consider safety first and work hand in hand with government and NAPE to ensure mercury free gold mining.

The Kassanda District Community Development Officer, Ssebulime Gozanga said he was happy to visit the mines upon invitation by NAPE since they lack enough facilitation as a district to do spot checks.

 He said he had observed the miners are working without safety equipment like gloves, overall, gumboots, and helmets which puts them at a risk of touching and inhaling mercury that is dangerous to their health. He said the miners should put their lives into consideration and work with NAPE to ensure that mercury is slowly phased out.

Peruth Atukwatse, the Program Officer in Charge of Chemicals Management at NAPE said mercury use among Kayonza miners is still high which prompted NAPE to put a demonstration site where the miners have been trained in an alternative where Borax is added to the concentrate at the final stage after gravity concentration through direct smelting.

She said in addition to several trainings on the impacts of mercury and the need to shift from its use, the demonstration site will act as a learning centre for the miners but also to demonstrate to government that there are alternatives to mercury that should be promoted.