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Price Gold Philippines 0010.JPG
Miners use six-inch-deep plastic pans to process a sludge of mercury and crushed gold ore.  ..An amalgam of mercury and gold particles is formed by swirling the liquid ore in a pan.  The mercury attracts the tiny gold flecks.  The "panned" sludge is discarded but the mercury is retained.  Forcing the mercury through a nylon sieve made from remnants of a common umbrella produces a 1/4-inch amalgam pellet.  The amalgam is then heated with an oxygenated gasoline torch to a temperature sufficient to evaporate the mercury revealing pure gold.  ..Story Summary:.Small-scale gold mining in the Philippines uses mercury and cyanide to extract elemental gold from ore extracted from mines and pits dug by hand.  Very young children, some as young as four, are put to work at less dangerous but still rigorous tasks in the gold mining areas.  These include panning in streams or rivers and hauling ore sacks that can weigh up to 60 pounds.  Children often play near mechanized equipment and highly toxic mercury and cyanide.  These chemicals, used to help extract elemental gold from ore, are leached into nearby watersheds where fish and other marine life, mainstays of the Philippine diet, are poisoned.  The high price of gold and the poor economy in many developing countries has led to an increase in small-scale gold mining throughout the world.