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 Tue Jun 5, 2007
Mercury campaign supports safer mining in Indonesia

 Small-scale miners and gold shops working in and around the town of Kereng Pangi in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia are adopting a safer approach to the use of mercury following a major health awareness campaign by Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta (YTS), a local community support organisation set up and funded by Kalimantan Gold Corporation Ltd.
YTS was selected to run the campaign locally as part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) Global Mercury Project to promote more responsible mining practices in the use of mercury, which is estimated to pose health risks to around 50 million people worldwide.
"Our project has been in two parts," explained YTS community and regional development manager Bardolf Paul. "There has been a promotional campaign to make people aware of the dangers of mercury. We have also visited miners and gold shops to demonstrate two low cost solutions which can be used to capture potentially harmful mercury emissions."
Mercury released into the atmosphere can carry significant human health risks, particularly for pregnant women and children in whom it can cause brain damage. In small-scale mining, mercury is widely used to separate gold into a ball of amalgam and then heated until it vapourizes. "The vapourized mercury is very sticky, stays in the environment and easily passes into the food chain," says Bardolf Paul. "The alternative is to process the amalgam in some kind of closed vessel or to use a filtration unit which allows the mercury vapour to condense in water. Both options are low tech and inexpensive -- it is just a question of getting the message across to people and getting them to change their behaviour."
In Indonesia, the YTS/Unido campaign has focused on the gold shops of Kereng Pangi as well as mine owners and miners involved in the nearby Galangan mining concession where there are more than 1000 small scale miners. "There are about 35 gold shops in Kereng Pangi and so far 18 have adopted the technology," says Paul. "We estimate that about a tonne and a half of mercury is produced every year from the gold operations here and if we get all the gold shops to start using the technology we will capture 90% of the mercury."
In addition to raising awareness and demonstrating safer alternatives for the use of mercury, the project team has been working with the local Kantigan District Government to develop new legislation to promote safer practices. This year the Government plans to introduce a new Regulation on Mercury Management which includes a requirement that all gold shops must use proper fume hoods and that all those involved share a responsibility for safer management.
Added Bardolf Paul: "The project has made a point of involving local people and we are very pleased that there has been a huge buy-in from the Mines Department. YTS will continue to keep up awareness of the issue among local communities and we are hoping there will be some bridge funding to keep the campaign going until the next phase of the programme in 18 months time."

EDITOR'S NOTE

The Global Mercury Project
Indonesia is one of five countries targeted five years ago as part of Unido's Global Mercury Project -- the others are Brazil, Sudan, Tanzania and Laos.

About YTS
YTS was set up by Kalimantan Gold in 1997 to provide social and community support in areas surrounding its copper and gold exploration projects. By the end of 2007, YTS will be providing social and decision making support to 18 villages in Central Kalimantan and eventually expects to work with all 31 villages in the area.

About Kalimantan Gold
Kalimantan Gold Corporation Limited is a junior exploration company listed on both the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada and on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. The company is focused on copper and gold in Indonesia and has exploration rights in two areas: the Jelai-Mewet epithermal gold prospects in East Kalimantan and the copper-gold porphyry prospects in Central Kalimantan.

For further information please visit www.kalimantan.com or contact:
Bardolf Paul
Manager, Community & Regional Development, YTS
Telephone +62 (536) 3224810

Nick Cottam
Corporate Relations Manager, Kalimantan Gold
Telephone +44 (0) 1394 384115
 
 

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