Toby Pomeroy


Let's discover a mercury replacement for artisanal miners and for the world!

Discover a safe, affordable substance that binds with gold ore, ending the annual release of 1400 tons of toxic mercury by artisanal miners
Pre registration

Challenge Overview

We are a growing, global team of passionate players, discovering a safe, affordable substance that binds with gold ore, ending artisanal miners’ dependence on mercury & ending the daily release of 4 tons of the toxic liquid metal into the biosphere.

If we say we can, we can.

We have a truly extraordinary opportunity to shape the future, to dramatically improve the health of the planet and all 7.28 billion of us, as well as those yet unborn.

Almost everyone knows that if you're pregnant or nursing, it's a really bad idea to eat a lot of fish, especially big fish like tuna, right?  Why? Because tuna and other fish like swordfish have the highest concentration of methylmercury, the most toxic form of the metal. 

Global mercury pollution is one of the greatest threats society faces today, potentially affecting every community in every part of our world as mercury never breaks down to a non-toxic state. Methylmercury is a highly potent neurotoxin that impacts the function and development of the central and peripheral nervous systems in both people and wildlife. Exposure to mercury is particularly dangerous for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children since mercury is most harmful in the early stages of development. 

By current estimates, more than 1,400 tons of toxic mercury are dumped into the environment every year by 10-15 million artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) in developing countries where mercury has been essential for efficient gold recovery and for their very survival. That's roughly 8,000 pounds being added into our biosphere every day.

For millennia mercury has been indispensable to ASGM as it allows them to isolate gold in their mining process. Liquid mercury is added to the crushed ore where it binds with tiny particles of gold then is clumped into amalgamated pellets that workers heat, vaporizing the potent neuro-toxin mercury into the atmosphere, leaving behind the more concentrated gold.

I’ve been a designer-goldsmith since 1967 and have owned jewelry retail, design, manufacturing and wholesale businesses. In 2004, through discovering the website, I realized that I was a willing participant in the metals mining industry which generates more toxic waste pollution than any other in the world. I had to admit that I had been part of a major problem!

I began looking for ways to bring sustainable practices to the jewelry industry and requested that Hoover and Strong Refiners in Virginia keep their scrap gold and silver separate from newly mined metals then purify them so we could provide for our customers 'reclaimed' or 'EcoGold' and 'EcoSilver'. They agreed and began selling us their traceable, responsibly sourced metals. Shortly thereafter, responding to the fervent interest, Hoover and Strong shifted their business to being a third-party certified refiner/manufacturer of only recycled gold and silver products.

This was a tremendous step forward, a historical event where, for the first time ever, we could purchase and confidently sell traceable, third-party certified, responsibly sourced precious metals.

There was still a great deal more work to be done.

In 2010 I joined the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) to develop and implement a standard for responsible mining designed to empower responsible mining communities and demonstrate to the world that responsible mining is possible! Certified Fairmined gold, silver and platinum are now available as a result of this commitment. 

I have visited several artisanal mining communities in Colombia and Bolivia and found the artisanal miners to be a proud, passionate people and among the poorest people on the planet. They’re eking out a living as best they can, doing work that's backbreaking and dangerous with no social security net to rely on. 

At the same time, we are undeniably living in times of extraordinary accomplishments, previously unimagined capabilities and technological breakthroughs that are increasing at an exponential rate.

We have an opportunity to make a global difference far beyond what we ever dreamed possible. 

With the mind-boggling technological advances we've made in networking, material sciences, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and with our massive computational power, we now have the tools to discover/create a mercury substitute that is effective, safe, affordable and adoptable by ASGM.

We have the capability of solving one of the most pernicious health challenges the planet has ever faced.

I am confident that we have the means to bring about a workable solution to miners' dependence on this highly toxic liquid metal. 

This HeroX mercury replacement challenge is offering a $1,000,000 prize to the team or individual that discovers an environmentally friendly, affordable means of separating crushed, finely divided gold from its ore. This new material must be environmentally safe, cost less than mercury, be readily available, acceptable to artisanal miners, be easily transported to remote locations, have fewer restrictions than mercury and be equally or more effective than the ages-old mercury/gold amalgamation process. 

If you're intrigued by this challenge, I invite you to be our partner in making an unprecedented global difference. We are truly changing the world! Whatever form of participation fits for you is perfect… from watching and listening to being a full-on, actively engaged partner. However you'd like to participate, you can be a key element in this breakthrough project!

Together, we can end the mercury tragedy and create a vibrant, healthy world. 


Let's make history!


It's all possible!



Updates 2
Forum 4
Community 125