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Story Publication logo September 10, 2021

The Most Dangerous Black Market You've Never Heard Of

Guyana, undated.

Mercury, the toxic quicksilver that pumps through the veins of gold miners is a necessary evil to...

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Man in a small refinery melts gold and burns the mercury. He uses a mask to avoid the toxic vapor
A man in a small refinery in Suriname melts gold and burns the mercury. He uses a mask to avoid the toxic vapor. Image by Bram Ebus.

Mercury is crucial to small-scale gold mining in South America, but increasing scrutiny of its health and environmental impact in the Amazon is leading to its prohibition throughout the continent.

This investigation delves into the underworld of mercury, following its path from Guyana to neighboring Suriname, exploring the health and environmental consequences, and what the prohibition of mercury would mean for the livelihoods of miners and communities across the Amazon.

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MERCURY is a film by Tom Laffay, produced by InfoAmazonia, a data journalism initiative that reports on the Amazon. It forms part of a wider investigation called Mercury — Chasing the Quicksilver, led by journalist Bram Ebus. Read more here.

VICE World News Presents is a brand-new series bringing thought-provoking documentary films from the next generation of filmmakers.