estimate of Mr. Woolford from GGMC. No register of small miners is available in Guyana. Goldproduction from artisanal miners was 2.8 tonnes (90,000 oz) in 1994, 3.1 tonnes (99,000 tonnes) in 1995and 3.4 tonnes (110,000 oz) in 1996. With the growing world-wide concern for the environment in recent years, the government of Guyana hasplaced a high priority on environmental issues. Although dredge mining operations are generally beingconducted on a small scale and in remote areas, GGMC recognized the need to minimize the adverseeffect of the current mining activities98.Guyana’s new Mining Act came into force in July 1991. While no general or specific provision is madefor prevention of pollution or protection of the environment, the broad general framework providing forthe granting of mining permits and claim licenses would enable inclusion of environmental protectionprovisions as conditions to obtain such permits. In addition GGMC is empowered to give directions tominers on matters of safety and good mining practice and they are obligated to comply promptly withsuch directions.Dredging operations are concentrated on Essequibo river and its tributaries:the Mazaruni river and its tributaries, the Cuyuni, Puruni, Semang, Eping, Kurupung and Meamurivers.the Potaro river and its tributaries, the Kuribrong river.the Konawaruk riverMercury is used in Guyana gold mining operations to extract gold from the final concentrate produced inthe gravity separation process. Mercury is added to a bucket containing the final concentrate and water.Amalgamation occurs as the gold and mercury are brought into contact by hand mixing the contents of thebucket. Approximately 14 grams of mercury are required to amalgamate 1 kg of concentrate (ratioHg:conc.=1:70). The resulting amalgam is squeezed through a fine cloth to remove the excess mercurywhich is re-bottled and used again. The gold-mercury amalgam is then heated in a tin over a fire orblowtorch until the mercury vaporizes. Occupational exposure is obviously a very serious concern.The GGMC considers unlikely the possibility of serious environmental contamination of the riversbecause of the type, size and distribution of the gold mining in Guyana. According to GGMC,contamination, if it is occurring, is most likely localized. Nevertheless, any increase in alluvial miningactivity during the next years, which seems inevitable following the development of the “missile mining”technique (suction/eductor dredge mining using a winch to manipulate the tapered suction end on the riverbed) will need to be monitored. The government recognizes that the artisanal miners cannot affordsophisticated environmental impact assessment reports or advanced mineral processing equipment. Inorder to provide help to the small miners to implement environmental management and controlprocedures, the government has already accepted that it must provide:1.Technical assistance through establishment of research centers and technical advisory services forsmall miners.