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How Mercury Poisons Gold Miners, Water In Indonesia

A gold miner in Indonesia holds up a bottle of mercury. (BBC)
A gold miner in Indonesia holds up a bottle of mercury. (BBC)

Next month, 140 nations will sign the United Nations’ Minamata Convention.

It’s a treaty that aims to regulate the use of mercury worldwide, and is named after the Japanese community that witnessed the world’s biggest mass mercury poisoning 60 years ago.

Today, contamination with mercury is a particular problem in countries where small-scale gold miners operate. Mercury is used to separate fragments of gold from the rock or earth.

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest informal producers of this precious metal. The BBC’s Linda Pressly reports from Borneo on the impact of unregulated mining and the threat of mercury.

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