Safe livelihoods for informal gold miners in South and Southeast Asia

July 22, 2013

Safer ways for informal miners in South and Southeast Asia to prospect for gold will be investigated under an Australian Government grant won by The Australian National University (ANU) and Minelab.

The research is led by Dr Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, a senior fellow at ANU with Minelab as a commercial partner, and will look at the risks taken by Artisanal Small Scale Gold Miners (ASM).

"Millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific region still dig and pan for mineral resources, producing a very large amount of minerals this way. It is risky, speculative and precarious work," says Dr Lahiri-Dutt.

Traditional practices employ dangerous methods for detecting and mining alluvial gold then use to refine the metal. This frequently leads to injury and death amongst ASM communities.

"Efforts undertaken so far to improve the lives of artisanal miners had focused on 'downstream' areas (such as the reduction in mercury use). My research will explore if the use of better technology can indeed improve the 'chances' of 'gold strikes'. It will work to build better awareness about safety and care for the environment in order to improve overall livelihood outcomes."

Through Dr Lahiri-Dutt's work, safer and more effective ways for can be found, preventing unnecessary risk to personal health and preserving the environment from the consequences of using mercury as a key refiner.

The funding was granted under the Australian Research Council Linkage program, which supports collaboration between public researchers and private industry.

Gary Shmith, Minelab's Region Director for Asia Pacific congratulated Dr Lahiri-Dutt on being able to pursue such a valuable project.

"Minelab is committed to improving the welfare and well-being of Artisanal Small Scale Gold Miners by providing training and technology to safely and efficiently find gold. We are also committed to supporting Dr Lahiri-Dutt with Minelab's resources and expertise to assist her research in South and Southeast Asia and look forward to sharing the positive outcomes of the project."

Explore further: Gold prices spur six-fold spike in Amazon deforestation

Related Stories

Gold prices spur six-fold spike in Amazon deforestation

April 19, 2011

Deforestation in parts of the Peruvian Amazon has increased six-fold in recent years as small-scale miners, driven by record gold prices, blast and clear more of the lowland rainforest, according to a new Duke University-led ...

Small-scale gold mining impacts river algae in French Guiana

February 29, 2012

Small-scale gold mining in French Guiana is having long-term effects on diatoms, small single-celled algae, by eliminating the species that are most vulnerable to water turbidity. The findings come from research carried out ...

Study finds mounting mercury threat in Peru Amazon

March 21, 2013

A study of mercury contamination in a southeastern Peruvian jungle area ravaged by illegal gold mining found unsafe levels of the toxic metal in 78 percent of adults in the regional capital and in 60 percent of fish sold ...

Chile president gives nod to huge gold mine

May 30, 2013

Chile's visiting president said Thursday that Canadian firm Barrick Gold can resume operations at its massive gold mine in Chile as long as environmental rules are followed.

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.