Update on Coodmilla Gold Ore Testing

Toby PomeroyNews

Village of La Llanada, Nariño, Colombia


Since December of last year, MFM and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have been exploring opportunities to connect innovative green mining technologies with interested artisanal and small-scale mining (ASGM) communities to help them mine more efficiently and profitably, ending their need to use mercury.

In a coordinated initiative between ARM, MFM, and Coodmilla, Ltda., a gold mining cooperative located in La Llanada, Colombia, 30 kg. of Coodmilla gold ore concentrates have been delivered to the MFM office in Corvallis, Oregon for analysis and comparative processing by two innovative gravimetric separation methods to determine the efficiency of these green technologies when compared with the miners’ traditional methods.

Coodmilla has never used mercury in their mining processes. The cooperative miners are fiercely proud and care deeply about preserving their quality of life, their pristine environment, and precious biodiversity. Coodmilla has earned a global reputation for mining responsibly and is committed to using the most responsible and efficient means available.

GOLDROP Gold Ore Separating Processor

The two processors, GOLDROP of Albany, Oregon, and Gold Strike Micron Gold of Grand Junction, Colorado, will process the Colombian ore samples demonstrating their efficiencies in recovering gold from its mineral concentrates.

I will observe and video-record their innovative separation processes and will submit a report documenting their procedures and efficiencies to the Coodmilla Cooperative. The Coodmilla miners will consider the process, speed, and efficiency of gold recovery, and if either or both of these innovative technologies appear sufficiently easy to use and will help increase revenue, Coodmilla Ltda. may elect to integrate either or both of these new processes into their traditional means of separating gold from its mineral ore.

If the Coodmilla miners invite us, MFM and ARM will establish an on-the-ground testing program. If the miners choose to continue using the new processes beyond the testing phase, with their invitation, we will begin a pilot program, conduct a scientific study, and publish the findings. If Coodmilla benefits from utilizing either or both of these new processes, perhaps more miners and communities will choose to upgrade their processes and eliminate mercury use.

Here’s what we’re excited to discover:

Sluice in Coodmilla processing plant

The Coodmilla Cooperative’s processing methods have served the community well for many years, and if these innovative methods of processing allow them to mine more efficiently with increased yield, this will be big news.

How these new processes will perform against ASGM’s traditional ore-separating methods, including mercury use, remains to be seen. But it seems inevitable that technology will discover breakthrough means of separating gold from its mineral ores. We’re searching the world to discover the most effective processes available and through our collaboration with ARM, connect innovative processes with interested mining communities who want to mine responsibly, beyond mercury.

There are 15~20 million ASGM around the world and most of them rely on the use of mercury to improve their gold capture rate. Every bit as ironic as it sounds, these miners are dependent on the poison in order to live. The lack of affordable, scalable alternatives to mercury use is the issue. If ASGM had access to other processing means that are affordable, easy, and—most importantly—would increase their profitability, most would stop using mercury in a heartbeat.

Nariño, Department, Colombia

The community of La Llanada is located at 7,500’ elevation in a pristine cloud forest of the SW Colombian Andes. The miners are a proud and visionary community who are passionate about demonstrating that gold can be mined in harmony with mankind and the natural environment.

In 2016, Coodmilla received Fairmined certification for having met the highest standards of socially and environmentally responsible gold mining. The same year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his commitment to peace in their country. Señor Santos’ Nobel Prize medal was created from Coodmilla Cooperative Fairmined certified gold and gold from another Colombian certified Fairmined mine, La Cooperativa Agrominera de Iquira.

Coodmilla gold in traditional wooden batea

Mercury Free Mining is honored to coordinate the first Coodmilla ore-testing by these two US-based innovators. We will post periodic updates here but will not announce any specific testing results until we have shared the compiled report with ARM and Coodmilla Ltda and received their responses to the demonstrations.

Thanks for your interest and support, and please stay tuned!