Monday, October 25, 2010

Gold Panning - A Safer Way

Before all the large, hazardous machines were used to hunt for gold, a much safer technique was used. A technique that didn’t contaminate the water, poison men’s lungs with mercury, trap people miles underground, or destroy the land. This simple, old fashioned technique is called “gold panning”.  To pan for gold one uses a steel pan to sift through gravel, dirt and water to find the precious metal.  The best places for panning are in areas where lode deposits and erosions have occurred, like in streams, rivers, ravines, and lakes.

It is said that 80% of the gold in the Mother Lode (a 120 mile stretch of gold enriched land from Bear Valley to Auburn California) is still yet to be found, which makes for a great recreational and earth friendly outing!  There are several parks that are open to the public for gold panning. You never know what kind of gold nuggets you could walk away with.  So if you should have the urge to hunt for some treasure, or want some environmentally friendly gold jewelry, gold panning is an excellent choice. 
How To Pan For Gold:
-Darken a 12-15 inch steel pan over a burner to make the gold flecks more noticeable
-Keep the pan under water at all times, fill it almost full with the wet earth throwing out the large stones and break up the clumps of mud/clay
-With both hands, rotate the pan with a swirling motion. The heavier gold will sink to the bottom while the sand and gravel will wash out over the edges of the pan.
-Continue to raise and lower the lip of the pan with a swirling motion so the lighter material will wash away and all that will be left are the gold specks or nuggets.

Stacy Allen

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Green Gold – Wal Mart and Tiffany Co.

Fine jewelry that consists of silver and gold, the normal daily accessories for many people lies a deep story behind the making.  Mining industries-one of the world’s dirtiest industries, miners dig for copper, silver and gold each day and removing tons of earth each day in which more than 99% is waste and only a small fraction of it would make the cut. 

Big retailers such as Wal Mart and Tiffany Co are pushing mining companies to adopt strict guidance and environmental and social standards for the industries.  In US, mining enough gold to make a 18 carat ring produces 20 tons of waste and metal mining creates 30% of all toxic releases and waste, more than any other single industry.  Is even worst in undeveloped world where lack of knowledge and concerns of waste and environmental impact was kept out of the picture.  CEO of Tiffany & Co. J Kowalski took the matter seriously and looked into the origins of its gold and silver but was unable to 
gather any insight on where it came from.   They would not tell them which mine and even which country it came from and is very fragmented. Tiffany & Co. and Walmart both solved this problem by buying its gold exclusively from Bingham Canyon in Salt Lake City and Kennecott and Newmont Mining Corp. from its mines in Nevada for gold and silver.  These mines have stricter standards, practices environmental and sustainability issues, and better safety regulations for the mine workers and the environment.  Walmart and Tiffany & Co. both took a big initial step towards opening doors and setting up environmental and social standards for the mining industries. 

By Xi Zhong

Friday, October 22, 2010

Green Mining in China

This article is what I found during my research for our CL/R group. I am interest in this topic because I can get lot of information and knowledge from it. This is not an article, but I can understand clearly from those power point slides. They are clearly explained how China Gold International Resources work on mining.
China Gold International Resources (CGG) is a Canadian mining company focused on gold production and acquisitions in China. They have Chinese and international managed exploration, construction, and operational teams. The most important issues are that they are really focused on “Environmental Rules and Policies”. They have an environment protection during the construction period. Here is a list of process how they do without pollution.
Advanced heap-leach and gold processing technology including 4 steps: 1) Advanced liner Technology and Modern Processing Equipment, 2) No leaking and No Pollution, 3) Minimized Evaporation Loss of Water, 4) Complete Recycle of Water
        During their Gold Mine Project, they are also helping grass seeds, planting trees, camp revegetation, and helping to build a healthy and environmental friendly community. CGG also do donation to local school and clinic. They are not only helping people’ education, medical equipments, tree planting donation, provides cash and food to more than 30 local farmers, but they do create job opportunity for local farmers to work at the mine site.
        China Gold International Resources is a company who passed the environment including water and soil inspection and acceptance review. They do not only pass review, but they also won the only praise of Best company for the soil and water conservation work in the Special Law Enforcement Action on Soil and Water Conservation from government in 2008.
        From the slides, I can understand how good this company is, they are not only earning money, but they do to help our environment. They do care people who live in the land.

By Wei Hsueh  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Gold Funds Congo's Deadly War- 60 Minutes Clip

South Africa is the number one supplier of gold for the world market. This clip from 60 Minutes addresses the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A war funded by the abundance of mineral resources. Human rights atrocities abound- murder, rape, child labor, kidnapping- a seemingly endless cycle of destruction and despair. How is it that the world's market for gold helps to fund this war? The gold mined from the Congo is smuggled into Uganda. While Uganda has almost no gold production, their exports of gold total nearly 75 million (US dollars) a year. Which leads me to the question: how are we to know where the gold we buy comes from? Currently, there is no tracing of gold- no regulation that requires a source of origin to be listed.

Please let the jewelry industry know that you care where the gold you buy comes from. You can do this by going to and signing the pledge to end destructive gold mining practices. The focus of this campaign is in four areas; they aim to address the environmental, community, worker and economic impacts of gold.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gold Mining and Miners’ Safety

Miners are facing many hazards everyday that may cost them their lives or making them disable. According to the U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration, 70,569 miners were injured and 305 miners died between 2000 and 2009 in United States only. Therefore, mining is considered one of the most dangerous jobs. When we talk about the danger that miners are facing everyday, the first thing we think about is minamata disease that threats miners’ lives since they are exposed to a large amount of mercury that come from mines.

Minamata disease is caused by ingestion of a large amount of methylmereury which is a form of mercury that is highly toxic. According to Tsurumi (1987) some of the symptoms of minamata disease are “sensory disturbance in the distal parts of the extremities, followed by ataxia, disequilibrium, bilateral concentric constriction of the visual fields, impairment of gait and speech, muscle weakness, tremor, abnormal eye movement, and hearing impairment. Mental disorder and disturbances of taste and smell arc also present occasion ally.” In addition, it causes pathological changes in the nervous system and a swollen brain.

Furthermore, a study was conducted in China to show the effect of mercury vapor exposure on miners. The scientists measure hand tremor in 27 miners, whom are mercury-exposed, and 52 unexposed villagers. They found that “the tremor intensities in dominant and non-dominant hands were significantly larger in the exposed workers than in the unexposed subjects, even when controlling for age, height, and drinking and smoking status. Especially, the frequency-specific tremor intensities at 1–6 Hz for dominant hand and 10–14 Hz for both hands were larger in former” (Iwata et al., 2006).

Knowing about minamata disease, its symptoms, and how it threats miners’ lives would make you think more when you decide to buy gold next time. When you go to a jewelry store to buy a gold ring next time, you need to ask yourself first what worth more wearing a ring for a couple of times, or saving miners’ lives?

By Fares Alshaiddi


U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration. (2010). Safety Statistics.

Tsurumi, K. (1987). New Lives: Some Case Studies in Minamata.
 Retrieved from ERIC database.

Iwata, T., Sakamoto, M., Feng, X., Yoshida, M., Liu, X.-J., Dakeishi,
 M., Li, P., ... Murata, K. (January 01, 2007). Effects of mercury vapor exposure on neuromotor function in Chinese miners and smelters. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 80, 5, 381-387.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gold Mining - Risking Lives

Not only is gold mining dangerous to the environment by polluting our air and water, but people fail to recognize how dangerous this process is to the individual miners themselves. Besides the fact that these workers can develop hearing loss, lung diseases, mercury poisoning, just to name a few, they also face accidental deaths. Due to decades of mining, the easy pickings are long gone, which means miners have to travel miles down into the earth to search for gold.  By taking cage-like elevators deep into the untouched ore, sometimes taking over an hour, miners are susceptible to all kinds of dangers.
Chile, the world’s leading producer of copper and also a major producer of gold has a lot of media attention at the moment for a severe mining accident that happened August 5th of this year.  After a rock collapse, 33 men have been trapped about 3 miles underground for over 60 days with little air, water, food and medical attention. With little space and little morale, these men are suffering from more than cabin fever. Even if they had more food available to them, they are cautioned not to eat more than a couple mouthfuls of tuna and a drink or two of milk a day in order to fit out the small escape shaft that is still being drilled. While this is a record breaking accident, with the longest amount of time miners have survived trapped underground, these men are, and will continue to suffer medical and mentally probably for the rest of their lives. The incident in Chile is not the first and sadly, will not be the last time miners fear for their lives underground. Luckily, so far this accident has not caused any deaths, but no one is in the clear just yet.

Unfortunately, not every accident is so lucky. In South Africa there have been 96 accidental mining incidents since the beginning of 2010. While that is 26% less than this time 2009, that doesn’t make up for the lost lives. I’m sure the family members and loved ones of those killed do not care about this 26%. Regardless of the lowered percentage, this is still 2 deaths a week, which is 2 too many.
August 6th, an underground electrical fire occurred in an eastern China gold mine killed 16 people and sent 39 more to the hospital. Turns out, china actually has the worst mining safety record in the world, with 2,631 deaths last year. That is 7 deaths a day! While most of those deaths are from coal mining, these accidents still occur underground. If the demand for gold reaches that of the demand of coal, just think of how many more deaths will be added to this number.
Even though I have only briefly discussed three different areas, accidents alike are happening all over the world. Some with a couple fatalities, some with hundreds.  So next time you think you have to have those gold earrings for Christmas, stop and think about those who have risked and lost their lives to produce this rare material for you. Think about the families who are suffering and grieving the losses of their loved ones from unfortunate events that could be prevented by using gold alternatives.
Stacy Allen

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gold mining cause considerable environment impact – Mercury emission

People use gold to reflect their status and affluence. From thousands and hundreds years ago, the aristocracy and rich measured their wealth by considering and weighing how much gold they own. The emperor of China even used thousands of gold apparatus as funeral oblation and buried together with the dead body. However, it seems like not much people notice and concerns that small scale of gold mining cause considerable environmental impacts.  The more gold wearing you purchase, the more toxic you created for our environment. 

Gold mining creates numerous wastes on the environment. A single gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste and all these wastes goes into the air, water, land, animals, and finally reach us. Based on my research, I discovered that mercury was widely used in hydraulic gold mining to increase the gold recovery rate. Although large scale of mercury usage was banned in the 1960s, mercury is still used in small scale especially gold prospect. It is estimated that 45,000 metric tons of mercury used in California for pacer mining have not been recovered. (Alpers, Hunerlach, Hothem, 2008) Small-scale gold mining is a significant source of Hg to the environment and may reach an annual input of about 450 t of Hg. (Luiz, 2003) Mercury is one of the most hazardous heavy metal and harmful for humans. It run into the air and goes through the environment and ends up on our daily food. 
In conclusion, gold mining generates and produces waste to the environment in which is extremely harmful to humans and living organisms. Is gold really necessary for our daily life usage?  Everyone lives with a different lifestyle and not just gold miners need to look at its concerns, but consumers also need to enhance their knowledge and ethnics about the impact of gold mining.  Gold mining should be regulated and federal regulations should be developed to ensure public health and environment is protected.

By Xi Zhong

de Lacerda, Luiz (2003). “Updating Global Hg emissions from small-scale gold mining and assessing its environmental impacts“. Springer Verlag GMBH Germany, p. 308-314
 Alpers, C. N.; Hunerlach, M. P.; May, J. Y.; Hothem, R. L.. "Mercury Contamination from Historical Gold Mining in California"

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Eco-Gold" Going Green

In these days, you can see gold hits highs near $1356.55 per ounce, recording a high of $1356.79 and a low of $1344.40. It records new highs!! People who own gold become wealth if they sell their gold. It is very valuable if you own gold now, but it is so experience to buy it. Gold is the most popular as an investment, but price for gold is too high to buy. If you think gold is too high to invest, and you really want to buy gold, you can purchase gold made of Eco-Gold. Let me introduce what Eco-Gold.

Now, there is an organization named “Eco-Gold”. Certified Eco-Gold is an alternative to gold produce and associated to large environmental footprint. Eco-Gold’s standard including no mercury/ cyanide, no child labor, no environmental footprint, no conflict, fair trade. If you are wearing a jewelry made by Eco-Gold will support a cleaner planet and sound development in Africa.

Purchasing gold from Eco-Gold is another invest, and you also helping this organization. It is not only “non environmental footprint” but also supports development of rural area of Africa’s pollution free mining. If you are interesting to buy gold made of Eco-Gold, the only way to buy their gold is purchased onsite because the gold from there is produced by African local traditional miners. It is benefit for customers to make sure the gold they buy is supporting communities and is free from environmental footprint. Miners are working hard, but the gold does not bring their wealth life. Eco-Gold is the foundation that helping those miners. 

By Wei Hsueh

Gold mining in Oregon-Hazard to Environment

Gold mining in Oregon is not a new story!  It has a history entailed with southwest and northeast Oregon.  According to the article, “Up Sucker Creek in Southwest Oregon, gold miner’s rights collide with environmental realities,” by Scott Learn, there are as much as 50 gold mining claims along the upper part of Sucker Creek.  And, to add to the unfortunate reality, almost all of these are on public property.   Learn states, “The miners don't dig in the water, but they cut trees near streambanks, dig potentially leaky mining pits down to bedrock using track-hoe excavators and dump trucks, fill the pits with water diverted from creeks and vacuum through the diggings for gold nuggets and flakes with a suction dredge.”  Are the gold miners silently creeping into destroying Oregon’s precious wildlife?  With human beings only after profit, our Oregon greens might just be sold for people’s greediness and never satisfied hunger over gold products. 

The law passed in 1872 in favor of gold miners to give “anyone who stakes a claim a clear right to the minerals on the land” is the main reason for the collision between the gold miners such as Cliff Tracy and the state regulators, such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Beaureu of Land Management.   This aged law overrules those rules that came along later such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  And, according to Learn, the Sucker Creek was named as a Top Priority Stream in 1997 due to the diverse wild life it feeds.  Aside from all the significance the Sucker Creek has to the Oregon and surrounding environments, the gold miners continue to fight for their rights to dig for gold!   What can we do as Oregon citizens to stop this digging into something more valuable than gold?  Are we to wait until our elected politicians address this issue, or as consumers, should we consider the source of our gold products before sliding that credit card?

Rice In Your Gas Tank?

Boosting Biofuel Production From Rice Straw

A discovery by Chinese researchers that could turn rice straw into an inexpensive new renewable source of biofuel has been under developed in the past two years.  Scientists report the production of biofuels from rice straw which is a leftover from harvesting the grain, therefore, making it a much more sustainable alternative to rice production.  The key question that the author is addressing is the need for alternative renewable fuel sources to replace gasoline.  Whether or not rice harvesting byproducts can be used sustainably and hold a profitable market is also important.   It seems that the opportunity that this process provides could help a continent such as Asia, where population is reaching alarming highs and causing for much more fossil fuel consumption.  

In ACS' bimonthly journal Energy & Fuels, it goes on to describes this as discovery as a way to boost production of biofuel from rice straw by almost 65 percent. Another important fact is that China is the world's largest rice producer, a crop that leaves behind about 230 million tons of rice straw each year.   Looking at the troubles associated with this process, scientists have not turned to rice straw for production of biofuels because it contains a tough cell wall which they have found difficult for bacteria to break down.

My conclusions from this article are that the process is a good way to reduce waste material form a major industry like rice harvesting, but it will take some tinkering to produce the best biofuel product. The process does look promising and the initiative is well respected.  This looks like a great idea in theory, what could be more renewable then using parts that were to just be thrown away?  This type of technology looks to be a great stepping stone for the future and a possible option when fossil fuels become scarce.

After continuing my research into this specific topic, I have found little to no further developments on this technology from its break though in 2008.  Does this mean that the technology is obsolete? Could this be a hump in the sustainability movement?  Are people beginning to sweep fuel concerns under the rug now that prices have dropped from 4-5$ per gallons to now a “low” rate of 2-3?  Since when did the fluctuation in the price of gas change the environmental impacts that fossil fuel burning produces?  All of these kinds of questions are causing people to wonder what will really change in today’s society if everything blows over and convenience seems to always have the upper hand.
By, Lindsay Hofer

American Chemical Society (2008, May 28). Rice In Your Gas Tank: Boosting Biofuel Production From Rice Straw. ScienceDaily.