Responsible Recovery of Mercury from Contaminated Artisanal Gold Mining Tailings

the details…
Date started
Sept. 2018
US Department of State
Project Partners

CNPML and Innova Ambiental


An estimated 50-100 tons of mercury are released annually in Colombia, causing significant air, soil, and water contamination and severe health impacts on local communities. Pure Earth is working with partners CNPML and Innova Ambiental to pioneer strategies to reduce the amount of mercury used in the Colombian artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector.

To accomplish this objective, the project is working closely with the Colombian government to:

  • Understand which mercury-recovery strategies are most applicable to the Colombian context by piloting promising technologies.
  • Develop a model for the responsible and profitable recovery of mercury and gold from tailings
  • Develop and adopt recommendations for technical protocols for the safe handling, storage and disposal of recovered mercury that considers local, regional and national contexts.

Achieving these objectives will strengthen the technical capacity of Colombian national, regional and local governments, including law enforcement and military agencies, to handle, store and dispose mercury recovered or seized from ASGM activities, including mercury contaminated tailings and captured mercury from amalgam burning. Ultimately, this will will support the Colombia Government’s ongoing efforts to comply with the Minamata Convention and reduce the national burden of mercury contamination.