Gold mining has been the cause of high environmental degradation due to the release of toxic chemicals to the environment. These toxic elements have very adverse effects to both the environment and the human health. The health effects of the above emissions can be obtained from http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-14538904.html).
Several concerned efforts are however in place to ensure protection of the environment in gold mining. Mercury pollution reduction from gold mining (http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/asgm.html) is one of the concerned projects in place today. This project has its concerns in preventing the burning of mercury- gold amalgam, which might cause serious health effects to people. This project aims at reducing the mercury emissions from the gold shops through a cheap and easily implemented technology called the Gold Mercury Capture System (MCS). This project was practically tested in the Peru and Brazilian Amazon gold mines. MCS technology is on the road to enforcement and the above governments have provided technical resources on the technology in various web pages where the concerned parties could access the full information. The gadgets are meant for trapping the mercury particles preventing them form escaping into the environment. The manuals for constructing the devices can be obtained from http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/HgManual.pdf.
Research on the MCS project reliability has been very positive with data collocated from the Peru gold mining sites of Masuko, Maldonado and others showed that shops using the MSC had ambient mercury vapor concentrations just slightly above the WHO mercury limits of about 20mcg/m3- 8hour. Gold shops not using the MSC technology however had very high mercury emissions of up to 20 tines higher than the former. The mercury control system has therefore proved very effective in keeping up with the Green Gold policy aimed at protecting the environment and the human health at large.
A new approach to Green Gold mining has been commissioned recently in the Buckhorn Mountain gold mine in Okanogan near Washington DC (http://www.djc.com/news/en/11202056.html). In fact, this is a new gold mining that has been permitted in Washington in the last 15 years. The project has been critically analyzed by the involved experts and given a go ahead to operate since environmental degradation effects involved with other mines have been mitigated in this project. An example is the trend where mining companies have left large valleys open after mining. This project would use structural fill, which is a mixture of cemented sand, gravel and non-ore rock to refill the depressions created after mining. At the end, the ground would be left intact with little evidence of any mining activity.
Water would be used to suppress dust underground and on the surface and cooling the equipment at the site. This may cause the water to be contaminated with other traces of toxic metals, sulfates, and nitrogen compounds. The project’s main advantage is the ability to treat the water before releasing it to the environment. A figure of the water treatment plant is as shown below. Generally, the project would use much reduced water content than any other gold mines and the released water from the mines would be treated to comply with the international standards.
By Abdullah Alkhaldi
Bailey, Marianne. “Reducing Mercury Pollution from Gold Mining.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. May 13, 2010. http://www.epa.gov/international/toxics/asgm.html. Retrieved on 1st Nov. 2010.
Banton, David. “A green approach to gold mining in the Okanogan.” Seattle Daily Journal, 2008. http://www.djc.com/news/en/11202056.html Retrieved on 1st Nov. 2010.
Business wire. “Green Planet Group Making Green Gold Mining a Reality.” All Business.com. January 5 2010. http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/company-structures-ownership/13685137-1.html. Retrieved on 1st Nov. 2010.
Geena, Paul. “Now, mine green gold without mercury!” Commodity online April 23, 2010.. http://www.commodityonline.com/news/Now-mine-green-gold-without-mercury!-27624-3-1.html . Retrieved on 1st Nov. 2010.