Transitional dynamics from mercury to cyanide-based processing in artisanal and small-scale gold mining: Social, economic, geochemical, and environmental considerations

Payne Institute Research Associate Aaron Malone and Faculty Fellow Nicole Smith and others examine the environmental issues around artisanal gold mining, in particular highlighting often-overlooked problems that are occurring as more of the sector incorporates cyanide processing. The common sense among policy makers and the international community is that anything that decreases use of mercury is an improvement – but what we show is that the current transition phase, with mercury and cyanide use overlapping, actually makes environmental problems worse. In this regard, it is important not to be complacent or imagine that artisanal gold mining’s environmental problems will fix themselves. July 21, 2023.