Gold mining is one of the most dangerous industries that threaten human rights, the environment, and wildlife. Talking about gold mining processing, Metals mining produces more toxic pollution than any other industry in the United States. It is responsible for 96% of arsenic emissions and 76% of lead emissions. Every year, US mines generate an amount of waste equivalent in weight to almost nine times the trash produced by all US cities and towns combined. In addition, according to the International Labor Organization, mining is responsible for 5% of workplace deaths each year.
Moreover, gold mining is not just affecting people in developing countries through pollution; it is also considered a source of human rights violations. According to a Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, they found that "overwhelming evidence of human rights violations occasioned by the mining activities, which were not sporadic but a well established pattern common to almost all mining communities."
Gold mines have many forms, one of the most common gold mines is the open-pit gold mines, where all the grass, trees, and every other living thing above the place to be mined is removed and the ore is blasted and scooped out. Not only do open-pit mines scar the landscape, they produce 8 to 10 times more waste than underground mining.
In addition, gold is now rarely found as nuggets, but rather is extracted chemically from the ore by using a cyanide leaching process. These operations usually lead to cyanide and other toxics eventually getting into the surrounding land, surface water, and groundwater. When talking about the hazard of cyanide, I should mention that an amount of it equivalent in size to a grain of rice will kill a human, and very low concentrations of cyanide in surface water will kill fish.
- Fares Alshaiddi