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Uganda: Leaders from gold-rich area urge govt. to ban mercury use in mining due to negative impact on health

"Karamoja leaders ask Government to ban mercury use in gold mining"

The use of mercury in gold mining has irked district leaders in Karamoja sub-region, who have called on the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to ban it immediately. Karamoja is one of the regions endowed with gold among other minerals in the districts of Moroto, Kaabong, Abim, Amudat and Nakapiripirit. Artisanal and small-scale gold miners in mining sites such as; Rupa (Moroto), Karita (Amudat), Acerere (Nakapiripirit), Morulem (Abim), and Lopedot (Kaabong) among others use mercury to extract the precious metal – gold. The abundance of gold in the districts lured pastoralists and former cattle rustlers to switch to gold mining...

However, the leaders argue that the use or mercury endangers not only the lives of the miners but also the environment and thus want it banned. In different interviews with Oil in Uganda, the leaders implored Government to help miners get an alternative to mercury use. Simon Nangiro, the Chairman of Karamoja Artisanal Miners Association said although mercury is used in extracting gold, it should not be used by artisanal miners who are ignorant about the health hazards associated with it. “Mercury is very dangerous for people who are not trained on how to use it like our Karimojong and also it is contaminating water that animals and same people drink because they do not have knowledge of specified places where it flows,” he said.

John Nangiro the L.C V Chairperson of Nakapiripirit district said an alternative means for artisanal miners should be introduced other than using mercury. “Mercury is so dangerous, and it is going to worsen the environment which is already suffering as a result of cutting down trees for charcoal burning,” he notes.