Traditional gold mining uses mercury for gold processing. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2013 recorded people’s mining sector contributes the highest to mercury use while Indonesia is the third largest country that is mercury-polluted after China and the Philippines.
Concerned by this condition, Rika Ernawati, Mining Engineering lecturer from UPN Veteran Yogyakarta researched into alternative safer and environmentally friendly methods to process gold, which is to change mercury with borax.
Use of borax turned out to be more environmentally friendly, she said in her doctoral promotion at Faculty of Engineering UGM on Monday (30/7). The steam produced in the end process or burning is not hazardous to health, different from if using mercury that can be poisonous. Use of borax can also produce more gold while the cost is cheaper.
“The bullion gold that is produced is also cleaner,” she said on her dissertation titled Characteristics of Epithermal Gold Sediment and Effect in End Processing of Gold Using Borax as Alternative to Mercury.
Rika added the characteristics of gold sediment had effects on gold processing that uses borax. The characteristics of gold sediment that affect gold processing with this method is type of gold, sulphur content, granule size, and gangue minerals.