Note: Article adapted from here.
It’s true what they say ‘not all that glitters is gold’, but if you look closely enough, gold is not that alluring either. Satisfying people’s voracious appetites for gold, comes at an alarmingly large cost to the environment. 50% of all gold is made into jewellery to be worn. That beautiful gold ring on your finger, produced 26 tonnes of mine waste. If people were more aware of the truth behind their gold, would they be as quick to run to the stores?
The gold mining industry is heavily reliant on toxic substances which release high levels of pollution into the environment. Gold is extracted from ores using cyanide. A drop of this mephitic chemical could prove fatal to us. It is horrifying to imagine the damage several tonnes of cyanide, used daily in the mines, can do. A majority of the time cyanide, from these mines, seeps out and causes irreparable damage to the surrounding land. The mining process also releases copious amounts of highly noxious chemicals like mercury, lead, arsenic and more, into the environment. These pollutants tarnish the health of our ecosystem as a whole.
The extraction process also generates a sizeable amount of waste. To put it into perspective, every 40 seconds, the gold mining industry produces that which is equivalent to the size of the Eiffel Tower in waste. It would take the mines less than 5 days to dot the City of Love, with many more of these ‘waste’ towers. Apart from this, gold mining is extremely energy intensive. The entire process, from extraction to grinding, requires approximately 90,000 KJ, per gram of gold. This is comparable to the daily amount of electricity used by a typical household in America.
It is our responsibility to be more cautious about the devastating effects of the gold mining industry and look for more sustainable alternatives. Clean Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group, has a non-toxic solution to eliminate the use of cyanide in the traditional gold mining process. It uses a water-soluble gold recovery reagent and is applicable to a range of ores for responsible mining operators. Not only is the Clean Mining solution better for the health and safety of the mine employees, the environment and local communities, it delivers similar gold recovery rates to cyanide.
With the use of Clean Mining’s solution, gold mining can take place without the deadly cyanide and yet still be efficient.