Indonesian president’s mercury ban wins church backing
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Widodo forbids use of toxic element by small-time gold miners after report details health, environmental risks
This file picture taken in Kereng Pengi, Pontianak shows an Indonesian vendor showing a piece of gold in Pontianak. Small-time miners are rushing to tear up the earth in the hunt for the precious metal. But the mercury used to extract it is taking an even greater toll. (Photo by Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP)
The Catholic Church has welcomed a presidential ban on the use of mercury at hundreds of small-scale gold mining sites across Indonesia, saying the move would help prevent pollution and lessen health risks the toxic element poses.
Mercury is commonly used in the gold mining industry to help extract gold from ore.
Last week, President Joko Widodo banned artisanal gold miners from using mercury after receiving a report about hazardous pollution caused by the element at 850 small-scale gold mining sites.
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