""It is good news for miners in Kenya who have been operating wit

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PARIS, June 1 (Xinhua) -- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic booked a quarterfinal spot in the French Open in a match waiting for three days to complete on Wednesday, while the last Frenchman in main draw Richard Gasquet was eliminated in last eight.

The 29-year-old Serb, who need an ever first trophy at Roland Garros to complete a career slam, fought back from one set down to see off 14th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 in a game that was initially scheduled on Monday but twice delayed by rain on Tuesday.

Play resumed on Wednesday from Djokovic leading 4-1 in the third set, and the top seed finished with a forehand volley on his second match point to set up a meeting with Tomas Berdych after the No.7 seed ousted Spain' s David Ferrer in straight sets.

With rain creating a compressed schedule, Djokovic will be on court for a third day in a row on Thursday.

Also making quarters in men' s draw are 13th-seeded Dominic Thiem, who' s through to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal following a 6-2, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers, and David Goffin of Belgium who defeated Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

Later on Wednesday, defending champion Stan Wawrinka made short effort against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, beating the 55-ranked Spaniard in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7), to make semis.

In the other men' s singles quarterfinal matchup, world No. 2 Andy Murray rallied past 9th-seeded local favorite Gasquet in three hours and 23 minutes, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-0, 6-2.

The Scot plays the third seed Wawrinka in the semifinals on Friday, while Djokovic and the other three advancers on top of the main draw have to play back-to-back quarterfinals on Thursday.

On women' s part, singles title holder Serena Williams was taken just over an hour to see off the 18th seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, 6-1, 6-1.

The 21-time Grand Slam winning American next plays Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, a surprising winner over 12th-seeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro with a duo of 7-5 on Wednesday.

The other quarterfinal remaining picks No. 8 seed Timea Bacsinszky and unseeded Dutch Kiki Bertens after the Swiss Bacsinszky ousted Serena' s elder sister Venus Williams 6-2, 6-4, and the latter upset 15th seed Madison Keys 7-6 (4), 6-3.

No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza and 21st seed Samantha Stosur of Australia made respective easy promotion to set up semifinal encounter against each other.

Also on the day, the ninth seeded pair Xu Yifan and Zheng Saisai, the last Chinese in the French Open main draw, packed home after losing 6-2, 6-4 to Russia' s Margarita Gasparyan and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the women' s doubles quarterfinals.

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by Peter Mutai

NAIROBI Ryan Callahan Jersey , May 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's artisanal and small scale gold miners (ASGM) on Friday received 4.2 million U.S. dollars from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to minimize the use of mercury in their activities.

The project that is known as the GEF Gold Kenya project will also safeguard people's health and the environment and support sustainable livelihoods of ASGM.

""This program intends to introduce and promote best practices and techniques for gold extraction in collaboration with the governments,"" David Maina, acting head of programs at the UN Development Program (UNDP), said during the launch of the project.

Maina said exposure to mercury has many serious health effects and also affects aquatic, plant and other animals.

""It is unfortunate that despite the dangers associated with the chemical, human contact in mining of gold is still high,"" he said.

The program that will be coordinated by the UNDP and the Kenyan government is also being carried out in Burkina Faso, Colombia, Guyana, Indonesia, Mongolia, Peru, and the Philippines.

The project is aimed at aligning small scale gold miners with the 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury's agreement that banned the use of mercury in mining for health and environment conservation reasons.

Artisanal and small scale mining accounts for 60 percent of the total gemstone production in the country. Though lucrative, both the miners' health and the environment have taken a hit due to frequent mercury exposure.

A majority of large-scale players have shifted from use of mercury and embraced alternative methods of extracting the gold after the mercury ban in 2013.

Maina however revealed that exposure to mercury is high in children and teenagers, as many drop out of school to engage in lucrative gold mining.

""Of great concern is the reality that women are primarily the ones handling mercury in the ASGM community, when they engage in the processing of gold without protective equipment,"" he said.

The use of mercury is believed to be affecting the sensitive aquatic ecosystems in the Lake Victoria basin upon which approximately 5 million Kenyans rely for domestic and export fisheries activities.

The total mining population in Kenya may be close to 250,000, but this is on the increase as more people shift towards gold mining as a main livelihood source, due to a decline in agricultural productivity within the region.

According to Mismark Onyando, chairman of Mining Community Development Program (MICODEPRO), the support will go a long way in helping improve the lives of miners in the country.

Onyando told Xinhua that for many years, miners have risked their lives in the mines as they apply various mercury-using gold extraction processes that release mercury into the air without using any protection, leading to the exposure.

He said that in the past miners have been diagnosed with respiratory problems, renal failure and mental disorders that are symptoms of heavy metal poisoning.

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