The gold fever has an ancillary dark lining to it…the use of toxic mercury (aka quicksilver ) to assist in extraction and refinment. The complete article outlines further the woes associated with gold mining as it is carried out in small scale gold mining…..
“Mercury’s dangers were well-known before the invention of tests that could detect it in the bloodstream. The once-common English expression “mad as a hatter” described the psychotic symptoms displayed by European hatmakers of the 18th century who were poisoned using mercury to process fur pelts. Similar expressions can be heard in everyday conversation across Segovia.
Edgar Segura, who helps run a shop offering quicksilver, says some of his friends have gone mad inhaling fumes. Aceneth Castrillon, a local health worker, says town residents exposed to mercury display symptoms including depression, tremors, drooling and impotence. She even blames mercury for increased suicide rates. “Everyone who lives in Segovia is contaminated,” she says.
An estimated 15 million small-scale miners in Latin America, Africa and Asia use quicksilver to refine their gold. That makes selling mercury an increasingly lucrative business, and the global market is dominated by a handful of traders who buy it in bulk, store it and then sell to distributors in gold- rush nations across the developing world. Like the men who made fortunes selling pickaxes during the California Gold Rush, mercury traders today are cashing in on gold fever, but by selling a hazardous material. Perversely, international efforts to outlaw the trade are making it more profitable.”