Daily Archives: September 25, 2015

Bolivian miners exploit gold at 5000 meters above sea level

Pagina Siete reports:

Cooperative reduced the use of mercury

Miners exploit gold at 5000 meters above sea level

The mine is behind the Illimani. They work in the rain and dense fog.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 10.14.52 AMLung diseases are very common in the cooperative miners of 15 de Agosto [August 15], even more because they are exposed to temperatures exceeding 10 degrees below zero and operate at 5,000 meters above sea level.

The mine is located behind the slopes of Illimani. The miners work in the rain, hail and heavy fog, which delays their work. Despite these setbacks, the cooperative has adapted to climate change and found an opportunity to strengthen safety standards in order to reduce accidents and avoid loss of life.

No one can enter the site without their safety gear, such as the lighting helmet, boots, tools, safety belts, among others.

For members it is a priority to exploit gold in balance with the environment. To this end, the administrative president of the 15 de Agosto Cooperative, Alexander Nina, said they reduced by more than 40% the use of mercury in gold mining.

Before they were using, every 45 days, 15 kilos of this element, now employ only eight to 10 kilos. “For the future, we intend not to use mercury and replace it with a metal that does not pollute like mercury,” he said.

In Bolivia, 64% of the gold, large and small minig, used mercury in its operations, according to a survey by the Department of Environment, Mining and Industry, of the Ministry of Mining.

It is a highly toxic pollutant that can damage the brain and nervous system, experts say.

The cooperative also increased the number of tailings dams to reduce pollution; and a few meters from the camp fitted out a pool where tey breed trout.

“If the water was contaminated fish would die. We are not harming the environment,” said a miner.

Each year the cooperative needs to improve safety standards in harmony with the environment to renew the international certification. The Sajama summit team, headed by its manager Ana Maria Araníbar, advises to conserve the international seal of Farimined.

Araníbar noted that the cooperative must reinvest the $4,000 they receive as a reward for export. That money should be used efficiently.

Fall of minerals

Price. The gold cooperatives are concerned about the fall in international prices of minerals.

Royalties. 15 de Agosto Cooperative brings about 400,000 in royalties to the Bolivian town of Irupana.

Competition. Two years ago the illegal marketing of Peruvian gold was the main obstacle.