In a step-by-step guide, Popo-Cee-Popo Global has demonstrated the use of its signature products (the Mini Trommel and ANT Concentrator- mercury and cyanide free) for artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM).
Unlike the mercury-dependent artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the combined use of the Mini Trommel and the ANT Concentrator are easily operable, require less human effort and highly efficient in gold recovery (99.9% gold recovery rate).
The Mini Trommel and ANT Concentrator provide a suitable, a better preferred and a lasting solution to mercury-dependent small-scale mining which leads to the depletion of the environment, in addition to the damaging health effects characterizing its use.
Akin to the use of trommel in large scale mining, the ‘Mini Trommel’ is adapted for suitability in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining. The ‘Mini Trommel’ follows the same principles of use by the large scale trommel.
Processes involved in use of Mini Trommel and the ANT Concentrator
Like the big-size trommel, it has a key component which is the drum (a compartment which is designed for the separation of rock or clay materials designated by two classes). These materials are washed with water to sieve out the large particles and clay.
Within this compartment, materials are classified into two classes; One class is +5 (big size materials) and the other -5 (small size materials). Such materials that fall within +5 are sieved out and are not further processed. For materials that are less than -5, they are channeled into the shaking/vibrating table and the gold which is in this material remains in a carpet within the trommel whilst all else are washed off.
After 1-2 hours, depending on how much gold material passes through the trommel, the carpet is washed to acquire the ‘gold concentrate’ in a container. The concentrate is then passed through a screen afterwards and there after it is channeled into the ANT Concentrator.
The ANT Concentrator is powered using electricity and for the sake of convenience, it can be powered by a generator. The ANT Concentrator when switched on, gets the spinning bowl turning around and the G-force (acceleration due to gravity) takes place after which water is then poured through a funnel into the spinning bowl. Then, the gold concentrate is added, and the ANT Concentrator processes the gold concentrate to recover the gold.
Considerably, in less than 4 hours, this whole process is completed, without any need for mercury or cyanide. Therefore, this is a user-friendly technology and better-suited for small-scale mining in Ghana.
Comparatively, for mercury-dependent artisanal and small-scale mining which is practiced, mercury is used to extract gold from ore as an amalgam. The amalgam is typically isolated by hand and then heated, often with a torch or over a stove to distill the mercury and isolate the gold.
Globally, it is identified that mercury release from tailings and vaporized mercury exceed 1000 tonnes each year from ASGM. Between 10 and 19 million people use mercury to mine for gold in more than 70 countries, making mercury pollution from ASGM a global issue.
The list is endless pertaining to the harmful effects of mercury use in mining, and no matter how careful a small scale miner is in handling mercury, in one way or the other, there is an environmental cost attached and this may be ‘irreversible’.