People and the environment in the vicinity of the North Mara Gold Mine in Tanzania are being exposed to heavy metals and cyanide pollution, according to a report published in June for the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT). The study collected and analysed samples of water, sediments/soil for four heavy metals Nickel, Cadmium, Lead and Chromium. Concentrations of almost all of these were found to exceed the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Tanzanian and US Environmental Protection agencies.
The following is a summary is taken from Levels of Heavy Metals and Cyanide in Soil, Sediment and Water from the Vicinity of North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District, Tanzania[pdf 1.1Mb], a report presented to Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) by Manfred F Bitala, Charles Kweyunga and Mkabwa LK Manoko.
Heavy metal and Cyanide leakage from Gold mine projects is a challenge that mining companies face the world over. All gold mine companies that properly assume their responsibility of good practice take steps to ensure that people and the environment are safer from their operations. During the present study we have observed heavy metals and Cyanide that are higher than International and National standards. Although the extent of spread can not be estimated it is obvious that people and the environment in the vicinity of North Mara Gold Mine (NMGM) are exposed to heavy metals and Cyanide pollution thus to the dangers associated with these chemicals. These chemicals find their way into human body through direct ingestion of contaminated food, drinking water or air and their health problems are of major concern.
Outcry of people surrounding gold mine projects about pollution has been a characteristic of many mining projects in Tanzania, NMGM project being one of them. This short study was initiated by religious leaders as a way of responding to such outcry. During the study samples of water, sediments/soil were collected and analysed for four heavy metals Nickel, Cadmium, Lead and Chromium using Atomic Absorption Spectrometer AAS, while CN analysis was analysed using pyridine; pyrazolone method as described by Allen (1989). We also recorded pH levels. The study was carried in Kwimanga, Kwinyunyi, between Kwimanga and Kwinyunyi, River Tighite and Nyabigena. Observed levels of Cyanide were then compared to standards by WHO, Tanzanian and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In overall terms, observed concentrations for all, almost all parameters were higher than the standards used. These observations therefore suggest that both heavy metals through Acid Mine drainage (AMD) and Cyanide were leaking from waste rock piles and tailing dam, respectively. Generally therefore, people living in the study area are in danger of suffering pollution effects of heavy metals and Cyanide as stipulated in the literature. Water samples taken from River Tighite indicate that Ni, Pb, and Cr, were 260, 168 and 14 times higher this year than it was observed in the year 2002 suggesting that humans and other living organisms in the area are highly vulnerable from pollution resulting from current gold mining activities of North Mara Gold Mine.
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* This summary is taken from Levels of Heavy Metals and Cyanide in Soil, Sediment and Water from the Vicinity of North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District, Tanzania[pdf 1.1Mb], a report presented to Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) by Manfred F Bitala, Charles Kweyunga and Mkabwa LK Manoko.
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