Author(s): Limbong D, Kumampung J, Rimper J, Arai T, Miyazaki N
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Abstract In artisanal gold mining practiced in North Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, gold is separated from ore by the use of mercury, which forms an amalgam with gold. All related processes are undertaken with a low level of technical knowledge and skills, no regulation, and with disregard for the safety of human and environment health. The situation is generating serious potential health and environmental risks in the area. As part of an ongoing monitoring program, total mercury concentrations were examined in water, bottom sediment and fish samples from three main rivers in Talawaan Watershed, which receives drainage from gold mining practices. Monitoring began in May-June 2000, almost 2 years after artisanal gold mining had begun. At that time, the mercury concentration in the sediment was generally low, except in places close to the gold processing plants. In the present study, a more systematic sampling and analysis was conducted in May-June 2001. Bottom surface sediments, water, and fish samples were collected at 12 sites along the three main rivers in the watershed. In addition, one site outside the watershed was sampled to serve as a control. Sample collections were conducted in three phases in duplicate, with two-week intervals between each phase. The mercury concentration observed in this study indicated that an increase took place along the three main rivers in the watershed. Solutions to this problem must be formulated as soon as possible in order to avoid a major health, economic, and ecological disaster arising from the continuing discharge of Hg. The present study proposes that mercury dispersion occur downstream of the mining. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science B.V.
This article was published in Sci Total Environ
and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources