Image via WikipediaBy Lawrence Reaves
Few people are aware of the immense waste of natural resources involved in the mining of gold. The production of a single gold ring requires up to eighteen tons of ore. A jewelry box full of watches, bracelets, and chains represents an environmental impact that would stun most people. It involves dynamiting mines, allowing drainage of hard metals into the ecosystem, and sometimes, dumping the remains of the process into streams and other natural habitats.
These facts aren't widely-publicized. If they were, there would likely be far fewer people buying gold jewelry. Below, we'll describe the mining process, so you'll understand the enormous environmental cost it entails.
How Gold Is Mined
Mines are either blasted or dug in order for workers to gain access to gold-laced ore. Open pit mines are typically created with the liberal use of explosives (e.g. dynamite). Large pieces of land are blown open, wreaking havoc with the nearby ecosystem. Tunnel mines, on the other hand, are created via excavation. While seemingly less destructive than open pit mines, tunnel mines also cause environmental problems.
Once a mine has been created, the challenge then turns to digging up, and getting rid of, waste rock.
The Problem With Waste Rock
While both mining methods (e.g. open pit and tunnel) produce a significant amount of waste rock, much more is produced during the creation of an open pit mine. In both cases, however, there is so much rock produced that removing it is cost-prohibitive. So, it is piled near the mine. Several tons, rich with sulfur, sit out in the open. This is thought to contribute to the production of acid rain.
Acid rain poses another environmental issue. The rain washes over the rock, which contains lead, mercury, and other metals that can be harmful to the ecosystem. These metals are released from the rocks, and can eventually drain into the environment.
Heap Leaching Explained
Heap leaching is the process used to separate precious metals from ore. It is usually done by first grinding the large ore-rich rocks excavated from the mine into smaller pieces. Then, these pieces are irrigated with cyanide. The cyanide "leaches" out the gold and other precious metals, all of which land in a liner located beneath the small rocks. This process can require several weeks, and usually involves a significant volume of cyanide. As you might expect, there is a negative environmental effect.
Getting Rid Of Cyanide
The "pregnant solution" (i.e. the mixture of cyanide, gold, and other metals) is taken to a processing plant for chemical treatment and separation. Recall from earlier that the production of a single gold ring takes several tons of ore. Once the gold has been separated, the waste material (called tailings), must be dumped.
These tailings include the cyanide used during the heap leaching process as well as other harmful hard metals. They are often dumped into the environment, which causes additional problems for the surrounding ecosystem.
Selling Your Gold Is Good For The Environment
The mining process described above produces a stunning amount of waste. Most people who buy gold jewelry have little idea regarding the environmental impact their purchase decision poses. You can reduce this impact by selling your old gold jewelry online.
When you sell your pieces to a refiner, the gold content is extracted and smelted. It is then sold to jewelry and product manufacturers for use in new products. Your gold is essentially recycled, which makes mining new gold less necessary for meeting the market's demand. While new customers will remain unaware of the recycled gold, you'll know that you're improving the environment.
Another reason to sell your gold is to take advantage of the recent high price. Not only will your decision help preserve the environment, but you'll be able to enjoy a healthy injection of funds in the process.
Help save the environment by recycling old gold, old jewelry with a refinery such as Refinity.com. Recycle and sell gold coins to make a few dollars and do your part to save the planet.
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