There are millions of artisanal gold miners around the globe who depend on gold mining as their primary source of income. Many of these people make only a few dollars per day while others have larger mining operations using heavy equipment or suction dredges to recover placer gold from creeks and rivers.
There are some very legitimate concerns that many people have about the mining methods that are used by these mining operations. In particular is the use of mercury amalgamation to separate out the gold from gravels.
While this is certainly a valid concern, you certainly can’t blame these people for doing whatever they can to find gold. Most artisanal miners live in very poor conditions and have to work hard for the little that they have.
What we can do is educate miners about gold recovery options that do not require mercury or other harsh chemicals.
Below is a list of articles that discuss placer mining methods where gold can be recovered without the use of mercury. A properly setup mining operations should be able to get excellent gold recovery by using gravity to separate out the gold.
Fortunately miners today have access to much better equipment than they had available to them during the early gold rushes of the 1800s. There are many options available to gold miners that can help them separate fine placer gold from black sands without the use of mercury or other contaminates.
Quality gravity-based separation methods can yield just as much gold as mercury if used properly without the dangerous side effects of a known neurotoxin.