The entire CLINN-GEM pilot facility assembled at the UP Department of Mining, Metallurgical, and Materials Engineering building, where the entire process takes place, from gold extraction to waste treatment. (Photo by Celeste Llaneta, UP MPRO)

There’s something alchemical about extracting precious gold using deadly mercury and cyanide. But for the many who work in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), this bit of alchemy is a grim reality that often results in mercury or cyanide poisoning, death, and environmental degradation.

In the alchemy of social change, technology is only one part of the formula. The other, arguably more complex part, is people. This can be seen in the journey to bring the technology dubbed CLINN-GEM, or the Community-Led Integrated Non-Cyanide Non-Mercury Gold Extraction Method, out of project leader Dr. Herman D. Mendoza’s laboratory at the UP Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and into the communities and day-to-day lives of the country’s artisanal and small-scale miners (ASMs).

Dr. Ma. Theresa L. de Villa Professor of Education and Former Principal, UP Integrated School Former Dean, Faculty of Education, UP Open University Former Director, UP Diliman Ugnayan ng Pahinungod

Over two decades ago, UP pioneered the country’s first university-based formal volunteer service program. The program merged from a study conducted by Dr. Maria Luisa Doronila and Dr. Ledivina Cariño that looked into how much value UP students ascribed to social commitment—essentially asking, “Has UP lost its soul?” The response to that study was the creation on February 28, 1994 of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod/Oblation Corps.