Gold mining is an important source of income for miners, their dependents and a larger number of people who indirectly benefit through forward and backward linkages. However, gold mining does not only provide benefits. It may cause severe damages to the environment, for example through deforestation; road construction; booming mining settlements; soil erosion; soil disturbance; pollution of rivers, their sediments and floodplains; pollution by heavy metals (use of mercury in ASM and cyanide in LSM, as well as other heavy metals such as arsenic and lead); reduction of local biodiversity due to poisoning of fish, birds, mammals, macro-invertebrates and even plants; and death of humans and malformation of the contaminated survivors. Knowing that Congo forest plays a key role in mitigation of global warming and is a sanctuary for many endangered species as well as several endemic species, it is urgent to undertake research assessing and mitigating gold mining’s environmental impact.
Current research at CEGEMI addresses technical aspects of heavy metals pollution, as well as socio-environmental aspects of access to natural resources.