Building peace in the minds of men and women

Project 696 - Impacts from Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Amazon

Project 696 - Impacts from Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Amazon

Brief outline of the project

Largely because of use during the exploitation of gold, mercury is a health concern in many regions of the developing world including the Amazon. Mercury use and release is associated with artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), which is done by individuals or groups of miners mostly operating informally with little to no regulation.

This type of mining uses rudimentary methods including mercury amalgamation and impacts local, regional and global environments through contamination and land use change. Globally, ASGM is also considered the largest source of mercury pollution to the atmosphere and to water. After Hg enters terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, it can be converted to methylmercury that bioaccumulates in aquatic food webs.

Unfortunately, many gaps still exist in our understanding of the cycling of mercury in Amazonian ecosystems, particularly in areas with ASGM given their often illegaland transient nature. This IGCP group will integrate and generate scientific knowledge to better understand how Hg pollution from ASGM is transported, transformed, bioaccumulated and sequestered in Amazonian ecosystems.

The results will be shared and integrated with local communities and government to help facilitate the implementation of strategies and public policies aimed at minimizing the damages posed by mercury.

Related Information

  • Duration: 2020-2023
  • IGCP Theme: Earth Resources


  • Bridget A. Bergquist (Canada)
    Address: University of Toronto, Department of Earth Sciences, 22 Russell Street, Toronto M5S 3B1 (Canada)