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[GreenYes] Europe bans mercury exports - recycling connection



http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/10/26/business/EU_FIN_EU_Mercury_Ban.php

The good news is that Europe is on the right side of this issue. Most
of the mercury which was exported goes to horrendous amalgam use for
small scale gold mining. Briefly:

"The physical and/or chemical characteristics that make amalgamation
work are not clearly understood to this day. However, it is known that
if clean mercury is brought into contact with clean gold, the gold is
wetted and "drawn into" the mercury. This results in a solution of gold
in mercury or an alloy of gold and mercury called amalgam. After the
mercury has gathered in the gold it can be removed by dissolving it in
nitric acid or by driving it off as a vapor by heat. The gold will
remain behind. " (AZ Dept Mines and Mineral Resources
http://www.admmr.state.az.us/Publications/circ027amalgam.html)

In other words, gold can be cheaply collected in the Amazon and Congo
river basins by using mercury to 'soak up' gold flakes and then boil
the mercury off into the atmosphere. In April 2006, the WSJ had a
front page story about mercury recycling in the USA, saying that the
number one destination for mercury collected from our recycling
programs is sale to small scale gold mining operations. The EU is
reponding to this, thus the export ban.

The bad news is that the USA is not even discussing the lifecycle of
our mercury recycling programs. Are we all just satisfied to say that
if the source was the WSJ, that it can't be true our recycling
operations are diverting mercury from lined USA landfills and into rain
forests?

If the USA does what it necessary to stop this type of poison export,
it will hurt recycling programs pocketbooks in the short run. It's
time we start talking about it.

Robin Ingenthron
www.wr3a.org


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