Elemental Hg-Au amalgamation mining practices are used widely in many developing countries resulting in significant Hg contamination of surrounding ecosystems. We have measured total Hg and methyl-Hg concentrations in sediment and water collected from artisanal Au mines and these are the first Hg speciation data from such mines in Suriname. Total Hg and methyl-Hg contents in mine-waste sediment and water are elevated over local uncontaminated baselines. Total Hg (10-930 ng/L) and methyl-Hg (0.02-3.8 ng/L) are highly elevated in mine waters. Increasing total Hg contents in discharged mine waters correlate with increasing water turbidity indicating that most Hg transport is on suspended particulates. Our Hg results are similar to those found in artisanal Au mines in the Amazon basin, where Hg contamination has led to adverse effects on tropical ecosystems.
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Mercury and methylmercury contamination related to artisanal gold mining, Suriname