The Real Price of Gold

Article adapted from here.

More than two decades following the Aurul company cyanide leak in Romania, there persists immeasurable environmental damage to the area. Valleys filled with scattered industries, dead rivers and heavily polluted lands still lay at the base of the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. A town can also be found at the site, Baia Mare, whose inhabitants shared the fate of their land. They are plagued with illnesses following the disaster.

Remin, a mining company owned by the state, is known to supply metal ores to foreign firms in Baia Mare. One of which is Aurul. At the foot of the mountain, next to the town, one can find a seam of gold. It is 7 kilometres long and has a thickness of 450 metres. The extraction of gold is an extensive process. Every tonne of rock from the seam, only produces 0.6 grams of gold, upon extraction. The process involves crushing the rock into dust, mixing the dust with water, and finally adding cyanide to leach the gold out.

The cyanide solution used in the leaching process is highly toxic. In Baia Mare, the processing plant carries cyanide by pipe to storage lakes located above the ground. The lakes can be found between two villages. In the spill of 2000, one of the pipes burst, and the toxic solution contaminated the local water supply. The 130,000 cubic metres of sullied water had reached far beyond the two villages. It had polluted the water supply of inhabitants living around Tsiza, Lupes, Danube River and more. Soon after, a further cyanide spill, exacerbated the problem even further. The government of Hungary claimed US$100 million in damages, but no sum of money would be enough. The river Sasar had not seen fish since cyanide had been added to the gold mining process. Following the spill, many had lost their source of income, as customers refused to purchase produce grown in contaminated sites. Some had even lost their lives fighting ailments caused by cyanide and the toxicity of the gold mining industry.

As the storage lakes dry in the summer, the high concentration of cyanide in their waters evaporates into the atmosphere. It blows into the villages and causes immense damage to the health of the people living there. Cases of adults and children with shortness of breath and vomiting, fill the ER. The pollution in the environment creates weakened immune systems and increases vulnerability.  

Although accidents are rare, the heavy impact of gold mining on the environment has shown innumerable consequences which supersede that of a one-time incident. Clean Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group, has a solution. The company has replaced the toxic cyanide in the mining process with a non-toxic gold recovery reagent. This development is highly beneficial in preserving the health of the people and the environment. The non-toxic gold recovery reagent has set a new ‘gold standard’.  It is truly a revolutionary advancement for gold miners worldwide.