Note: This article was adapted from here.
The glamour and allure of gold has masked the sizable consequences gold mining has on the environment. Despite price fluctuations, gold regularly sells for over $1,000 per ounce. The majority of gold is found in small particles buried in gold ore. Mining as little as an ounce of gold from an ore generates 20 tonnes of solid waste and a substantial amount of mercury and cyanide contamination as a result.
Gold can be found by sifting through river beds, this occurs on a small scale and has hardly any impact on the water body. The vast majority of negative effects on water quality arise when gold is mined from ores on a large scale. The gold sediment in the ores is composed of harmful toxins, such as mercury. As the rivers are scoured in search of larger gold deposits, the toxins are pushed down the stream, amalgamating into the food chain. Gold mining is also responsible for the destruction of habitat. The process involves a consequential amount of movement of soil and rock. It is estimated that the gold and copper mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay has destroyed at least 24 miles of streams, and has had a heavy impact on the salmon population.
Gold mining has notable consequences on the surrounding flora and fauna, with thousands of acres of wetlands being devastated everyday by mining activities. A significant amount of cyanide is used in the mining process to leach gold from the ores. This results in tremendous amounts of pollution to sources of water that nearby communities rely heavily on. This has a much larger impact with governments spending millions of dollars in efforts to treat the poisoned water beds. Their efforts of reclamation at former gold mining sites is a recurrent, time consuming and expensive endeavour.
Gold mining also poses significant threats to the atmosphere. Mercury and sodium cyanide are just a few of the toxic chemicals which are released in the gold mining process. These particles enter the air and cause lethal harm to surrounding populations. The machines used in the mining process are powered by fossil fuels, which worsen the air quality further. If the release of these toxins are not properly controlled, there will be serious consequences on the environment and ecosystem as a whole.
Taking into consideration the significant impact mining has on the planet and people’s voracious appetite for gold, a sustainable form of mining is pivotal in determining the fate of our ecosystem. Clean Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group, has a solution which replaces the toxic cyanide in the mining process with a non-toxic gold recovery reagent. Its solution promotes sustainable practices, which in turn have proven to be beneficial for the health of the surrounding communities and the environment.
Its revolutionary non-toxic gold recovery reagent will result in transformational change for the gold mining industry. Thus, setting a new ‘gold standard’.