GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center received the Betty Clayton Gibson Memorial Trophy – Best Museum Exhibit for 2023 at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for its exhibit highlighting the importance of mercury-free gold.
“This exhibit illustrates how mercury-free gold mining can have positive long-term implications for gold miners and the environment,” said library director Robert Weldon. “There were many deserving exhibits at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show; ours struck a chord with the judges because responsible mining and sustainability in the industry are such important topics.”
The GIA Library exhibit included a “batea,” a traditional wooden bowl used for gold panning, and described its use. Many of the library’s books on ecological jewelry and responsible and sustainable mining and jewelry practices were also highlighted.
Because of mercury’s ability to bond with gold to form an amalgam, it has been widely used, especially in artisanal and small-scale mining, to separate gold from other sediments. As mercury is also highly toxic to humans and wildlife, it can cause physical and environmental damage.
Mercury-free options for concentrating gold are currently being explored using science and engineering. As new methods are tested, their gold yields are compared with those of mercury. As these technologies improve, they could significantly reduce, or even eliminate, the use of mercury in the gold mining process. Gold concentrators can be implemented at artisanal mining sites in source countries to improve miners’ health and the environment.
In 2021, GIA provided a grant to Mercury Free Mining (MFM) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).