Introducing Mercury Free Mining Eco-Prosperity Initiative

Toby PomeroyNews

Merging Sustainable Gold Mining and Community Empowerment

Mayata, Sierra Leone 2023-2024

Mercury Free Mining (MFM) has been working toward the eradication of mercury pollution in artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) since 2017 and recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit since 2019. We have been educating and engaging the jewelry industry in taking action to reduce and eliminate mercury use among miners by discovering and deploying the most effective gold ore concentrators for the benefit of the millions of miners who currently rely on mercury.

Demonstrating Goldrop’s effectiveness in Mayata Village

Our mission is fueled by an urgency to discover alternatives to this hazardous mining practice and is driven by a passion for solving one of the world’s most intractable and devastating problems.

Several years of focused intention backed by solid research led us to encounter a truly game-changing technology: the innovative Goldrop concentration system, invented and produced by John Richmond of Sluice Goose Industries.

We are launching the Mayata Eco-Prosperity Initiative under Sierra Leone’s verdant, teeming canopy, in stark contrast to the looming impact of mercury on artisanal mining communities and the world at large.

In January 2020, during my visit to Ghana at the behest of Mr. Festus Adomako Kusi, National Association of Small-Scale Miners (GNASSM) Technical Director, we field-tested an early Goldrop model. Despite technical issues with its control valves leading to suboptimal results, the miners still saw the immense value that it could offer. The GNASSM report reflected this optimism, with site owners expressing a keen interest in acquiring a Goldrop and recognizing it as a key to eliminating mercury use in Ghana’s gold mining. Unfortunately, our collaborative efforts were halted by the pandemic and the tragic loss of Mr. Kusi later that year.

The CECOMIP Mining Cooperative, Ananea, Perú

In a pioneering move into responsible gold sourcing, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) funded a 2021 study led by Caelen Burand at the University of Arizona. This groundbreaking research assessed five leading gold ore concentrators and concluded that the Goldrop’s performance was unparalleled, significantly surpassing the capabilities of traditional mercury amalgamation techniques.

On the Brink of a Breakthrough

At the forefront of ASGM innovation, the Goldrop is revolutionizing ore concentration within Peru’s CECOMIP cooperative, outshining traditional shaker tables. CECOMIP is poised to fully transition to Goldrop, a move signaling a major advancement in gold mining technology. Goldrop’s superior efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and eco-friendly design herald a new standard for small-scale mining, marking a significant leap forward for the industry.

Meeting with Honorable Paramount Chief Masakama of Sierra Leone Indigenous Miners

In April 2023, Goldrop trials in Colombian mines revealed a dual triumph: it not only captured fine gold that conventional methods missed, but also demonstrated an ability to effectively extract mercury from the tailings. This significant innovation offers a breakthrough for safer, cleaner mining, signaling a leap forward for environmental protection and responsible resource recovery.

Goldrop is asserting itself as a primary means for safe, effective, and environmentally responsible gold recovery in artisanal and small-scale mining.

Mickey Brookshire, a seasoned Sierra Leone gold and diamond miner and cutter, saw promise in the Goldrop concentrator at the February 2023 AGTA Tucson show. He watched transfixed, as shimmering gold flakes rained into a small jar as they were dramatically released from their—notoriously tenacious—black sand host.

Mickey purchased the Goldrop on the spot, saying,

“I know who needs this invention more than anyone else in the world.”

Happy, curious, adorable Mayata children

Fast-forward to the present day— Mickey and I have just returned from 6 weeks in Mayata, Sierra Leone, where we launched Mercury Free Mining’s Eco-Prosperity Initiative. Mayata is a tiny village of 1,000 people where, for centuries, the indigenous Temne tribe has maintained a harmonious existence with the land and the Pampana River.

The purpose of our trip was twofold: First, to introduce the Goldrop system in Mayata, discovering whether the miners would prefer to continue using the Goldrop over their traditional methods, including mercury use. If they prefer using the concentrator, we wanted Sierra Leone’s government officials to see Goldrop’s effectiveness for themselves and to consider whether they wanted to support its deployment as an improved processing method throughout the country.

Mayata villagers, who have long been dependent on gold mining, welcomed the Goldrop system with keen enthusiasm as they readily recognized its potential to revolutionize their mining methods, providing a safe and efficient alternative to mercury use.

Top officials from Sierra Leone’s minerals and environmental agencies, serious about preventing mercury pollution from mining, traveled to our Pampana River mine site for a Goldrop demonstration. The system’s effectiveness not only captivated them but also sparked discussions about adopting it as a standard in ASGM mining. National Minerals Agency (NMA) Warden, Mr. Osman Conteh, described Goldrop as “a game-changer for Sierra Leone miners.”

Our secondary objective was to evaluate the potential of providing Hoover and Strong, Inc. with a sustainable supply of artisanally mined, mercury-free Sierra Leone gold. Torry Hoover has pledged to add artisanally mined, mercury-free gold to Hoover and Strong’s refining operations and product sales, targeting an annual volume of approximately 5,000 ounces. He has expressed interest in sourcing this gold from Sierra Leone, provided that it follows responsible mining and community empowerment practices.

EPA and NMA officials at Pampana River Goldrop mine site

The government of Sierra Leone has been proactive in its environmental efforts, being one of the early signatories of the Minamata Convention on Mercury. They followed this by submitting their comprehensive National Action Plan for reducing mercury use in the ASGM sector in April 2020, demonstrating their firm stance on promoting mercury-free gold mining practices.

Mayata Elder Mr. Osman Kamara

The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) has declared its support and is committed to being a collaborator with MFM’s Eco-Prosperity Initiative, providing expertise in the arena of CRAFT Code assurance and in developing responsible supply chains.

Mayata Elder Mr. Osman Kamara, who has lived his 78 years in the village, recognizes Mercury Free Mining’s Eco-Prosperity Initiative as the first effort he has seen focused solely on contributing to the village, rather than exploiting its resources. He identifies Mayata’s most pressing needs as: a local health clinic, additional clean water wells, improved sanitation facilities, and enhanced support for the school that serves over 200 children. These improvements are vital for a community where the most basic amenities are absent.

Mercury Free Mining is embarking on a critical fundraising effort to secure $100,000, devoted to research on the Goldrop’s ability to efficiently recover clean gold, and at the same time remove mercury contamination from Sierra Leone’s rivers. Our findings, crucial for environmental stewardship, will be presented to the Sierra Leone National Minerals Agency, advocating for a healthier, mercury-free future in mining, and as a global model for mercury-free ASGM. With a successful campaign, we will establish a mercury-free gold supply chain and begin implementing infrastructure support to Mayata as proposed by Mr. Osman Kamara.

Join us in this groundbreaking initiative

Join our mission to empower Mayata village and revolutionize artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) across the globe with a mercury-free breakthrough. Your contribution is pivotal, laying the foundation for a thriving, self-sufficient Mayata and inspiring 15+ million ASGM miners worldwide to adopt safer, more sustainable practices.

Mickey Brookshire and Sierra Leone Goldrop team

This moment is pivotal. Your support can turn Mayata’s gold into a beacon of positive change. Your contribution today will lay the groundwork for lasting health, education, and access to clean water.


Donate Now


With great appreciation for:

  • Goldrop inventor, John Richmond who, for the last 9 years, through thick and thin, has devoted his life to the dream of widespread adoption of the Goldrop.
  • Mickey Brookshire and the Sierra Leone Goldrop Team for making this extraordinary trip possible:
    • Mr. Charles Lebbie, miner — Project Lead (not pictured)
    • Mr. Gerald Macauley (not pictured)
    • Mr. CA John
    • Mr. Roland Alpha
    • Mr. Fayia Aruna
    • Mr. Maada Quee

Pampana River mine cooks

Finally, MFM supports the introduction and deployment of the safest, most effective processors available, offering innovation for responsible ASGM that is recognized by miners and governments alike. More than mining equipment, we see Goldrop as a tool for ecological diversity, healthy livelihoods, and community empowerment.

At the heart of MFM’s mission, the Eco-Prosperity Initiative acknowledges our profound and precious connection to Earth and all her People.

Thank you!