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[GreenYes] does mercury recycling lead to more use in gold refining?

For the last several years, I have spent most of my time on mercury product issues and would like to offer a different perspective to the issue of whether mercury recycling results in more mercury being used in gold refining in third world countries.

The use of mercury for this refining has existed for a long time, before the recent thrust to increase the capture and recycling of mercury.

What mercury recycling has done is to reduce the demand for virgin mercury, which is either intentionally mined or obtained as a by-product from other mining. In fact, due to the recycling of mercury and a decrease in demand for mercury, several virgin mercury mines have closed. This has reduced the total amount of mercury being dispersed throughout the environment and recyclers should be very proud of their role.

However, I believe that the goal should be the banning of all uses of mercury and that the mercury in products should be captured and sequestered. As an example, my County has banned the sales of specific mercury containing products and called on the state to ban products statewide. We also have active programs to recycle mercury and require retailers to set up recycling programs.

It should be again noted that a mercury flow model done last year for EPA shows that the amount of mercury going the environment each year in the US from products is three times the amount of mercury released to the air from coal-burning power plants. This is an area that we as recycling program managers can actively participate in.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI

> -----Original Message-----
> From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]On
> Behalf Of retroworks
> Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 5:44 AM
> To: GreenYes
> Subject: [GreenYes] Re: Compact fluorescent bulb deposits
> Paying people deposits to bring in mercury which is sold in liquid
> form on the global market is evil, right?
> To wit: If all of the mercury being recycled from lamps is going into
> the free market, and the accepted uses of mercury already have more
> mercury than they need (and are constantly reducing that amount), and
> the primary market for excess elemental mercury is alleuvial gold
> mining (using the mercury to draw flakes of gold from riverbeds and
> then burning the mercury off into the atmosphere), then we would be
> diverting mercury from regulated lined landfills and sending it to
> rain forests.
> Perhaps we should have these programs mandate highly regulated
> disposal, like we do radioactive wastes, not recycling. If we were in
> charge of nuke waste, and had a choice between two recycling
> companies, and one stored/disposed of it, and the other "resold it on
> the world market", which would we favor?
> Europe is ahead of the USA on this one.... Just barely. Banning
> export of the recycled mercury just started being discussed in 06,
> that would cause a complete glut on the EU market, which will lead to
> the same outcome as the bans on export of nuke waste in the 1970s -
> Yukka Mountain for Mercury. Which is better than what we are doing.
> It seems to me that my friends in the environmental movement may be
> subsidizing mercury extraction the same way we blame government for
> subsidizing forestry, oil, and corn sugar.
> >

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