In our quest for advancement, we lose sight of all that we forgo in the process. A plethora of our natural areas have been tarnished by the mining industry. UNESCO has designated many of these marvels as World Heritage Sites to preserve what is remaining for future generations to see. Twenty five percent of these sites still face risk of deterioration from past mining and drilling of the area.
An orange substance in the water provides a vital clue. The culprit? Acid mine damage! A gold, silver or copper mine nearby in its operation has sulfide minerals. In the course of mining, the sulphides exposed to air and water produced sulfuric acid.
Mine processing wastes, or tailings, can contain up to three dozen lethal chemicals – such as arsenic, lead, mercury – and processing chemicals like petroleum byproducts, acids and cyanide. As a result, drinking water, food supply and health of communities, as well as aquatic life and ecosystems, are all threatened by mine waste disposal.
Metals underlie virtually every product and service in our economy one way or another—food production, housing, transportation, medical care, you name it. Precious metals like gold can also serve as symbols of our deepest commitments.