IJESD 2019 Vol.10(5): 122-129 ISSN: 2010-0264
doi: 10.18178/ijesd.2019.10.5.1160

Mercury Distribution in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Area: A Case Study of Hot Spots in Camarines Norte, Philippines

S. Murao, T. Tomiyasu, K. Ono, H. Shibata, N. Narisawa, and C. Takenaka

Abstract—Distribution of mercury inside/outside of rod-mill stations in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) area was studied in Camarines Norte, Philippines. Plants, soil, sediments, tailings and artifacts were checked as well as air quality.
Plants grown inside rod-mill station have higher values of mercury than those found outside. This suggests that rod-mill station is a source of mercury contamination.
However mercury distribution is not homogenous even inside one rod-mill station. For example the artifacts of high mercury concentration was found just above or very close to furnace. This observation implies that mercury ascends to the air quickly from furnace when amalgam is heated.
Outside of rod-mill stations, even at points far away from ASGM, mercury in sediments and soil is sometimes high in concentration. This fact implies that there are several mechanism for mercury contamination.
The primary mechanism seems to be the rapid upward diffusion from furnace through chimney to sky, but other slower ways are possible such as accumulation through water circulation and food chain.
The first countermeasure against mercury contamination should be the control of aerial dispersion of mercury but attention should also be paid to the slower dissemination of mercury on surface and underground.

Index Terms—Artisanal and small-scale gold mining, ASGM, gold, mercury, contamination, pollution, Camarines Norte, Philippines.

S. Murao and K. Ono are with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Japan (e-mail: s.murao@aist.go.jp).
T. Tomiyasu is with Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.
N. Narisawa is with KANCHIKEN, Chiba, Japan.
C. Takenaka and H. Shibata are with Nagoya University, Aichi, Japan.

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Cite: S. Murao, T. Tomiyasu, K. Ono, H. Shibata, N. Narisawa, and C. Takenaka, "Mercury Distribution in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Area: A Case Study of Hot Spots in Camarines Norte, Philippines," International Journal of Environmental Science and Development vol. 10, no. 5, pp. 122-129, 2019.

General Information

  • ISSN: 2010-0264 (Print)
  • Abbreviated Title: Int. J. Environ. Sci. Dev.
  • Frequency: Monthly
  • DOI: 10.18178/IJESD
  • Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Richard Haynes
  • Executive Editor: Ms. Nancy Y. Liu
  • Indexing: Scopus (since 2019), Crossref, ProQuest, EBSCO, etc. 
  • E-mail: ijesd@ejournal.net