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"

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