COVID-19 Impact on ASM News about how COVID-19 is affecting artisanal and small scale mining in the world

Phasing Out Mercury? Ecological Economics and Indonesia's Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector

This article uses an ecological economics approach to analyse tensions surrounding efforts to phase out mercury in Indonesia's artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector, among the largest sources of mercury pollution worldwide. Many scholars and environmental activists have long hoped that global restrictions in mercury trade would drive up mercury prices and decrease mercury use and pollution in ASGM. However, in Indonesia, despite global mercury trade restrictions, recent increases in domestic mercury supplies through new cinnabar mining developments have made mercury less expensive and more available, destabilizing efforts at reducing mercury use. This article discusses implications of domestic cinnabar mining for controlling mercury in Indonesia's ASGM sector, highlighting obstacles to implementing the Minamata Convention, a treaty that aims to restrict mercury use. We link discussion of mercury mining to other socioeconomic processes, labour relations and power dynamics shaping mercury use in gold mining and hindering collectivised mercury-free technology uptake. Examining new evidence regarding the social metabolism of a changing extractive economy, we underscore why an integrated ecological economics paradigm – carefully grounding analysis in the context of local labour situations – is needed to challenge assumptions and inform new strategies for mercury reduction/elimination in ASGM.

Additional Info

Author(s)
S Spiegel, S Agrawalb, D Mikhab, K Vitamerry, P Le Billon, M Veiga, K Konolius, B Paul
Publication Year
2018
Associated Partners
University of Edinburgh, Yayasan Tambuhak Sinta, University of British Columbia
Language
English
Publishing Institution Webpage
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800917302215
Data Source Classification
Academic Study
Research Type
Both
Research Methodology
Primary - INTERVIEW, Primary - OBSERVATION, Secondary - PREVIOUS RESEARCH, Secondary - OFFICIAL STATISTICS
Thematic Tags
Political, Formalization, Governance, Social, Employment, Health and Safety, Labor and Working Conditions, Livelihoods, Technological, Processing, Environmental, Cyanide, Degradation, Mercury, Pollution, Waste Management
Minerals
Gold
Region
East Asia & Pacific
Country
Indonesia
Last Updated
July 30, 2020