In recent years, plans to develop gold mines have been met with vehement opposition. As one of the most destructive industries in the world, the gold mining process pollutes water and land in its use of mercury and cyanide, putting the health of people and ecosystems at immense risk.
According to the World Gold Council, a massive 197,576 tonnes of gold has been mined throughout history. With toxic cyanide being predominantly used in gold extraction, gold mining is, without a doubt, a major source of environmental degradation.
Concerns over the environmental implications of gold mining have manifested in the form of protests, and protestors are unafraid to express their dissatisfaction. A gold mine project in Canakkale province in Turkey was the subject of protest by thousands in 2019, with activists pointing out that the use of cyanide in gold extraction would contaminate the soil and waters of a nearby dam.
That same year, 50,000 people allegedly took to the streets to protest against a proposed US $1.2 billion gold mine in Columbia over fears that the project would damage the local environment. The stakes are high as the proposed site is in the vicinity of a water source catering to over two million local people.
Last year, it was reported that an anti-gold mine protest site was set up for 1,000 days by a group of locals in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Similarly, they were concerned over the potential environmental impacts of the mine — the contamination of water, air, land and ultimately the suffering of people’s health.
More persistently, protestors against plans for a gold mine in Greencastle, a city in Indiana, US camped at the proposed mine site, vowing to remain there until the company, Dalradian Gold, left the area. In addition, they sought to raise awareness of the need to protect the surrounding environment.
The hostility against gold mines, and in particular, their environmental consequences, urgently calls for an alternative that is less detrimental to the environment. With the growing demand for gold, gold production is only expected to be on the rise.
Is there a cleaner alternative to gold mining?
Clean Mining, a part of the Clean Earth Technologies group, has the solution. The Clean Mining gold recovery process, developed by Australia’s CSIRO, replaces cyanide and mercury with a safer, less hazardous chemical reagent. The gold recovery agent is an inorganic compound that is non-toxic, non-flammable and water soluble.
This clean alternative will not only allay the fears of the people, but also proves that gold mining can be carried out safely with minimal environmental consequences.