Generally, silver comes to market as a byproduct of the industrial mining of other metals, such as copper, zinc and gold. In 2005, only 30 per cent of silver came from actual silver mines. It is no high honour to be grouped into ‘one of the world’s most destructive industries’, as the industrial mining industry is known.
It was the worst mining disaster in Ghanaian history. In order to maximize gold extraction, mercury is often used to amalgamate with the metal. The gold is produced by boiling away the mercury from the amalgam. Mercury is effective in extracting very small gold particles, but the process is hazardous due to the toxicity of mercury vapour.