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$750,000 prize seeks solutions to challenges from small-scale mining

08 / 10 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

While the devices we carry around in our pockets everyday provide us with unprecedented convenience and levels of access to information, the materials they contain are often linked to the destruction of some of the planet’s richest ecosystems. Extracting metals and minerals like gold from the Amazon, coltan from the Congo, and nickel from Indonesia can take a heavy on local peoples, wildlife, rivers, and forests. Gold mining is a major threat to the forests and biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon, including protected areas. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. One of the most complicated aspects of addressing the issue is the disparate nature of small-scale and artisanal mining, which accounts for a significant share of production of some of the most critical materials that go into mobile phones, tablets, and laptops as well as jewelry: 15-20 percent of diamonds, 15-20 percent of gold, 20 percent of cobalt, and 70-80 percent of colored gemstones. Much of this mining is informal, unregulated, or even illegal, putting it beyond the reach of authorities. And some of the companies that sell products to consumers may have very little knowledge of what raw materials ultimately end up in their supply chains. Yet small-scale mining is an important source of income more than 40 million people worldwide, generating livelihoods and, in some cases, creating paths to escape poverty. So outright crackdowns on the activity can have a downside. Gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon. The launch event for the Artisanal Mining Grand Challenge featured a talk…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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