Green tech allows gold extraction without chemical runoff
"Carlos Villachica, a Peruvian engineer, has designed a procedure which extracts gold from ores without using mercury or cyanide, instead using water and biodegradable reagents. This process means that it is possible to avoid the contamination of rivers and forests, usually caused by the spillage of mercury, thus producing an "ecological gold". A similar initiative is now under way in Chile, where the company Pucobre — with the support of Innova Chile— is experimenting with bacteria that develop their own sulphuric acid to oxidize mineral substrata."
IFTF writes that most mercury contamination in Peru comes from 'wildcat' miners, working without permits and without the heavy equipment systems that can contain the mercury used to isolate gold. Up to 20% of gold from Peru comes from wildcat miners.
FORO writes, "If these innovative experiments succeed, Latin America and the world will be able to use procedures that are free from corrosive materials and pollutants."
IFTF adds that the government has tried to crackdown on wildcat mining but such efforts haven't gotten far. Villachica's machine, if proven successful, is an interesting solution to curbing environmental damage of illegal mining activity - simply make it safer and more environmentally friendly.
Sources:FORO Nacional/Internacional, May 2010, page 6: http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/FORO_May2010.pdf#page=6