About Gold Buyers
Recycling the Gold
5 Reasons Why Gold Mining is So Bad for the Environment
When you go to the jewellery store and purchase that beautiful 18kt gold ring that you’ve dreamt about, think about this; that ring has left behind 20 tons of cyanide and ore based waste.
In the modern world gold is mined using ‘Open Pit Methods’. This involves excavating and blasting gigantic holes into the Earth’s outer crust. The result? Less than 10 grams (5/100ths) of an ounce of gold per ton of rock.
In 1783, Swedish chemist Carle Wilhelm Scheele discovered that gold can be chemically dissolved by cyanide. Today Sodium Cyanide Solutions are used to dissolve and extract the gold from the ore (the blasted rock). Gold, being one of the most chemically stable elements on the planet, has a natural resistance to chemical changes that could otherwise tarnish its surface or physically degrade it. This makes gold highly sought after for a variety of uses - jewellery of course, but also in electronics and medical equipment.
The use of Cyanide, as well as the disposal of the slurry (the waste product), is a major global environmental concern. Recognised as a well known poison, hydrogen-cyanide is acutely toxic to humans and in a gaseous state it can be fatal. Cyanide is also harmful to the worlds’ wildlife such as mammals, birds and fish, all of which can have acute toxicity reactions to even the smallest amount of exposure to these solutions.
There exists the real potential for cataclysmic cyanide spills related to gold mining and if cyanide solutions leach into the soils or the groundwater it would introduce toxic levels of cyanide into the local ecosystems, effectively destroying them.*
In 2000, heavy rain, ice and snow caused a breach in the tailings dam (tailings are the cyanide-treated ore wastes, from which gold has been removed) at a gold mine in Baia Mare, Romania. This resulted in the release of 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-rich waste into the surrounding watershed. Drinking water supplies were cut off for 2.5 million people and nearly all the fish in the surrounding waters were killed.
Quoted from The Environmental Literacy Council - Gold Mining.