Uncertainty is pervading economic sentiment. Analysts are worried about geopolitical tensions and a second wave of COVID-19 infections that could potentially send the global economy spiralling into an even deeper slump. Meanwhile, investors are turning to gold as a safe haven asset, leading to gold prices rising to their highest in almost eight years. Gold is likely to retain an upward trajectory in the months ahead.
Spot gold prices touched US$1,762.81 an ounce on 25 June 2020 — its highest since October 2012. U.S. gold futures also gained 0.23% to US$1,776.10 an ounce on the same day.
In an interview with Kitco News, Dan Oliver, founder of Myrmikan Capital, cautioned that the U.S. Federal Reserve’s unprecedented stimulus, rolled out over a staggeringly short period of time, might trigger a currency crisis and cause gold’s value to soar, in nominal terms, to US$10,000/ounce.
The strong demand for gold is likely to trigger increased mining activity. If not conducted in a safe and sustainable manner, there will be a negative impact on miners, local communities, and the environment. In particular, there is grave concern over practices in the artisanal and small-scale gold mining industry (ASGM), which is the largest source of mercury contamination globally and is responsible for 37% of anthropogenic mercury emissions.
With rising gold prices, there is an increased incentive for ASGM mining outfits to intensify their mining operations. Most artisanal mining outfits add liquid mercury to extract gold from soil or sediment. When mercury is heated to extract gold, it is released into the atmosphere as vapour. As more and more mercury is heated, the toxic metal also leaches into soil and water, contaminating it for generations.
Clearly, miners need to look for clean mining solutions. While the economic case for mining improves when gold prices rise, mining activities must be done cleanly, sustainably, and ethically. Clean Earth Technologies offers scalable, non-toxic solutions that do not harm the environment. Learn more about our gold recovery reagent and de-watering process, which has won Mining Magazine’s 2019 award in the mineral processing technology category.