Executive Director of the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (IAST) Dr. Suresh Narine noted that Guyana could look at the possibility of mercury free extraction of gold by using activated carbon from coconut shells.
This method he said could prove to be cost effective alternative to mercury.
He explained that coconut is Guyana’s third largest agricultural export and in 2012 alone approximately 50 million coconuts were exported.
According to Dr. Narine, for 2012, 438,000 ounces of gold was recovered and with 50 million coconuts being exported they would have had the potential to recover 80% of this target.
He noted that the intent of Guyana is to ban mercury by 2020. However, with nearly 100% of gold mining done with mercury, the ban will significantly affect their operations.
Dr. Narine noted that mercury is not the type of material that dissipates in the environment and while Guyana cannot ignore the significant role mining has played in its development, it must be managed in a responsible manner. [Akash Ramlackhan]