Black markets are all around us, even in Canada. Think about the marijuana industry that has completely collapsed due to competition from the black market. So, as inflation rises across the globe, investors are accumulating hard assets, and for many artisanal miners, the profits are too tempting to pass up.

There are tens of millions of artisanal and, in some cases, illegal miners around the world; many of these miners buy products they need to mine on the black market. The most important for many of them is mercury.

Unfortunately, mercury is still widely used throughout South America, and while the health risks are well known, those in the illegal mining business have no choice but to use it.

Georgetown, Guyana, is the epicenter of the black mercury market. As the only country in South America legally allowed to import mercury, about twenty thousand kilos annually, the chemical is distributed throughout the continent from there.

Artisanal, Small-Scale Mining Employs 40 Million Globally

According to a report by the World Bank in 2019, the number of artisanal and small-scale miners in South America is estimated to be between 2 million and 3 million people. But the actual number is much higher. The report confirmed,

“The vital sector employs over 40 million people globally – with 10 million living in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Vice News argues there is a multi-million dollar black market for mercury, and it is endangering the health of many in South America.

And in The Most Dangerous Black Market, You’ve Never Heard Of, artisanal miners explain that the gold is so fine, without the silver (mercury), you can’t trap it.

One miner explains,

“The gold is like powder. Real fine, fine, fine.”

The host of the documentary explains that,

“Mercury binds with flecks of gold to form an amalgam that’s easier to collect. Without it, miners would go home empty-handed.”

As currencies across the globe continue to be devalued via debt monetization and currency creation, the hands of inflation touch us all. Yet, miners in South America and Africa will continue to use mercury. The rush to hard assets will not stop. And the artisanal miners of South America will continue to risk their lives so their children may have a better life.