Gold Mining and Our Environment

876 Words4 Pages
Gold Mining and Our Environment If you had to pinpoint what might be one of the most polluting industries in the world today, what would you guess? A look at the bracelet on your wrist, the chain around your neck, or the ring on your finger might be a clue. It may come as a surprise, but records show that more than fifty percent of the world’s toxic emissions are produced in the gold mining industry. Over three-fourths of the gold mined today will end up as jewelry tomorrow. Throughout history, gold has been prized by men and women alike and the price for some gold jewelry, today, is quite affordable. But, is it really worth its weight in gold? If we included the risks to our environment and the people living near mining operations, for some the answer would be no. Regrettably, there are hidden toxic costs to the gold some of us choose to wear. The gold mining techniques used today do not resemble the techniques used in the early Gold Rush days, when prospectors arrived with pans and pick axes in search of gold. One process mining operations use today is called heap-leaching. The heap leaching method used to extract gold uses cyanide as part of the process. This can be toxic to fish and wildlife, and is therefore, an environmental concern with the mining of gold. Other concerns taken into consideration when dealing with the heap leaching process of gold mining are preventing bird poisoning on wet heaps and solution storage ponds, as well as the amounts of wind blown dust and other air contaminants spreading throughout the environment which can cause serious problems. A side effect of heap leaching which is of major concern is the contamination of surrounding land, surface water, and groundwater. It is the worst environmental consequence of gold mining. In some cases, acid mine drainage turns groundwater more toxic than battery acid. As for

More about Gold Mining and Our Environment

Open Document