Gold has been a precious metal for centuries. It has been used decoratively since 4000B.C and has retained its value over the years.
The metal in itself is beautiful & quite harmless.
However, some methods used for mining can cause great harm to not only the miners, but also the environment & the people around the site.
With methods like open pit mining, huge amounts of rock and land are displaced, along with the toxic chemicals used to extract the gold, like mercury and cyanide.
Sites such as the Grasberg mine, owned mainly by the American company Freeport McMoran, have made such a large dent on the surface of Papua that it can be seen from space.
Environmental impacts from these mines include the clogging of streams and rivers and the release of tonnes of airborne mercury.
When there is no form of water control, these sites become toxic lakes.
The Berkeley pit, once an open pit mine, is now so deadly, not even insects are able to survive in the surrounding area.
Gold mining can also impact miners and the communities around the sites as the runoff from the waste may leak into drainage systems and water sources.
This is an especially daunting problem in areas where illegal gold mining occur.
Illegal sites in Colombia can release about 100 tonnes of mercury run-off into the rivers every year, poisoning more than 1 million people in the area.
Continued contact with mercury leads to organ failure, brain damage and impotence.
However, some retailers have agreed to oppose ‘dirty gold’. Check out the list of those retailers here.
// Photography: @debmargaretha //