A new zero-mercury technology, the ‘ANT’ concentrator has become a much preferred technology for Artisanal/Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGMs) due to its ability to achieve high gold recovery rate of up to 99 per cent.
Launched at the Ghana Mining Week 2021 celebration, on July 1, 2021, by Popo-Cee-Popo Global Investment Limited, a wholly privately-owned Ghanaian Company, the ‘ANT’ concentrator is a game-changer in the Artisanal/Small Scale Gold Mining sector in Ghana.
It is with no doubt that, the future of Artisanal/Small Scale Mining in Ghana is changing and the use of quality and affordable technologies is the driver of this timely and fast-paced change.
This fact is also sustained by Ghana’s adoption of the ‘Minamata Convention’ on Mercury which is a global agreement for reducing mercury pollution. It also recognizes the risks of using mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, and calls upon nations to reduce, and where feasible eliminate mercury use in this sector.
Meanwhile, antecedent to this change, experts have raised concerns about the harmful effects of the use of mercury in mining activities. Precisely, alluvial galamsey along rivers and water bodies is said to be causing 95 per cent of land degradation, while underground galamsey, shaft or pit mining is causing 5 per cent of environmental damage.
A view of the process involved in the use of mercury in mining shows that mercury is mixed with gold-containing materials, forming a mercury-gold amalgam which is then heated, vaporizing the mercury to obtain the gold.
Without mincing words, this process can be very dangerous and lead to significant mercury exposure and health risks. In most cases in mining communities in Ghana, mercury is washed in water bodies by illegal mining operators, thus destroying these sources of water and puts the country’s water resources at severe risks.
Going the way of mercury-free technologies
According to the ‘Minamata Convention’ on Mercury Initial Assessment Report for Ghana in 2018, given the amount of total mercury (81,060 kg Hg/y) entering Ghana, 32,547.9kg Hg/y of the mercury is released into Air, 6,526.8kg Hg/y is released into water and 6,075.3kg Hg/y is released into land. Thus, highlighting the environmental damages caused by the use of mercury in mining activities.
Going the way of zero-mercury in mining has therefore become a necessity, and much more so an environmentally friendly and economically viable alternative that ensures mining is done responsibly and safe.
Mercury-free technologies, in this case, the ‘ANT’ concentrator is safer for miners, their families and mining communities. By the use of this technology, miners may also market their gold at higher prices.
Globally, the use of concentrators is a prescribed method for gold recovery. More generally, the method of concentration is done by increasing the amount of gold in ore or sediment, by selectively removing lighter particles. The effectiveness of this method is known by the amount of gold recovery that can be achieved.
While technologies that apply this method have mostly achieved only about 90 per cent of gold recovery, the ANT concentrator achieves 99 per cent, virtually recovering all gold. Miners will find this technology cost-effective, and useful while also contributing to ensuring safe and responsible mining in Ghana.
Popo-Cee-Popo Global Investment Limited is a diversified mining services company listed in the Mineral Commission of Ghana. They are experts in small and large scale mining and equipment rental, leasing and hiring. The company has its own mining operations and as well shares its experience with investors.