GOLD MINING AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Topics: Gold, Mercury, Gold extraction Pages: 3 (596 words) Published: October 15, 2014
GOLD MINING AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Dirty gold mining has ravaged landscapes, contaminated ecosystems with toxic waste and resulted in widespread water pollution. Cyanide and mercury, two highly toxic substances, have been released freely into the environment as a result of dirty gold mining. TOXIC WASTE

Toxic waste is a devastating consequence of dirty gold mining practices. Cyanide heap leaching is the cheapest way to extract gold and as a result, is commonly used around the world. The process leaves behind mounds of wasted rock and leaking toxic materials. And because leaching is a time consuming process that takes months, contamination of the surrounding environment with cyanide is nearly impossible to control. Accidents involving cyanide have made the practice of heap leaching even more toxic. The United Nations Environment Program reports that more than a dozen reservoirs containing cyanide-laden mine waste collapsed from 1985 to 2000. This has led to devastating consequences in Romania, Ghana, Peru, Costa Rica, and other countries scattered around the world. BRILLIANT EARTH USES

RECYCLED GOLD TO
REDUCE DESTRUCTIVE
PRACTICES
ASSOCIATED WITH
GOLD MINING.
Cyanide is a rapidly acting and deadly chemical. Exposure to high levels of cyanide harms the brain and heart, and may cause coma and death. Exposure to lower levels may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, and enlargement of the thyroid gland. Disastrous spills have forced the gold industry to change how it handles cyanide by setting new standards for transporting and storing the chemical. New industry bodies have called on companies to submit to inspections. But the cyanide code is voluntary and not enforced by governments. And cyanide is not the only toxic waste associated with gold mining: when the rock disturbed by mines is exposed to rain and air for the first time, the newly exposed rock can contain sulfides that will react with oxygen to make...
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