Sharing insights into the impacts of mercury on human health and the environment as part of the Mercury Phaseout project

Posted on
16 May 2024
As part of our mercury phaseout project, WWF-Guianas has recently collaborated in the realisation of two informative and interactive sessions on the impact of mercury on people's health and the environment.

On Thursday 9 May, stakeholders from the mining sector, academics and students gathered at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname. After welcoming remarks by Professor Shanti Venetiaan (AdeKUS) and WWF-Guianas director David Singh, Donovan Bogor presented Suriname's policy on mercury use and small-scale gold mining on behalf of NIMOS. Sandra Bihari discussed the EMSAGS project, whose objective is to improve the management of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Suriname (ASGM) and promote the application of environmentally responsible mining technologies to reduce negative impacts on biodiversity, forests, water and local communities, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Johannes Abielie of Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), technical lead within both the EMSAGS and Merucry phaseout project, presented results from developing and piloting mercury free technologies with miners at Compagniekreek. This was followed by several studies and their results on biodiversity (flora, fauna, water quality) from staff and students of AdeKUS. The role of small-scale gold mining in the biogeochemical cycle of mercury was put in broader perspective by Laurence Maurice from the IRD (The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development), after which her colleague Loic Martin presented the findings of the mercury phase out project mercury analyses from sampling in Suriname. 

On Saturday 11 May, representatives of WWF, IRD, Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and AdeKUS engaged with local stakeholders in Brokopondo for a  sensitisation session on mercury and it’s impact to human health and biodiveristy. This conversation was held partly through an interactive game to highlight the mercury cycle, instances when mercury use leads to risks, such as when burning the amalgam and while consuming certain types of contaminated fish (especially fishes which eat other fishes). IRD and ARM held additional sessions at Brownsweg and Klaaskreek over the next few days.

This knowledge exchange has been made possible thanks to financing from FFEM (French Facility for Global Environment) in collaboration with The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), the EMSAGS project (Improving Environmental Management in the Mining Sector of Suriname, with Emphasis on Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining), the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname (AdeKUS), in particular the National Zoological Collection Suriname (NZCS/CMO).