Negative Environmental Effects of Gold Mining

Gold mining has very negative environmental effects. It takes a lot of work to produce gold. Gold is extracted from large open-pit mine. Many huge rocks are ground up just to produce a few flecks of gold. This is a great waste of the earth’s rocks. It is estimated that a “standard 18-karat wedding band leaves behind 20 tons of ore and waste rock”. The negative effects of shifting that much earth includes an extensive consumption of energy and toxic mine drainage. Toxic mine drainage occurs when you extract rocks which have settled in the earth for a long time. Air and moisture then ignite chemical reactions which produce toxic metals and acids. When those chemicals and acids leak into a civilization’s water, a huge danger is posed. It poses the risk of killing large populations of aquatic organisms, including fish. However, these are not the only dangers of gold mining. When you extract gold from the ore, mercury is deposited. Gold mining is the number 1 source of “mercury releases to the environment.” Mercury lingers around the environment forever. How do we stop this? Some propose that there is no need to mine for new gold at all. We all are overwhelmed with gold in many different forms. A much safer way of producing gold would simply be to recycle the “useless” gold we already own.

-Monica Rodriguez-

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092004730.html

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