Is There A Difference Between New Gold And Old Gold The Effects of Gold Mining on the Environment

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The Effects of Gold Mining on the Environment

The familiar images of gold miners searching for gold nuggets in mountain streams or hammering pickaxes into deep veins of gold no longer portray the process of how gold is mined today. Most of the rich gold veins that exist have been exhausted.

The rarity of gold requires that the gold be extracted by creating large open pits through blasting by excavating large quantities of ore. The ore is ground into fine particles to release any gold present from the rocks. The fine particles are like a powder that must be combined with water and treated with a liquid solvent to dissolve the gold.

Cyanide, a highly poisonous chemical, is the only known chemical capable of dissolving gold through a process called “cyanidation” of gold. Gold “cyanidation” rarely contaminates the surrounding environment through leaching, however the cyanide-containing waste produced by gold mining must be disposed of, often exposing the environment to some traces of the chemical.

The biggest environmental concern about gold mining is related to the change in the environmental landscape created by mining. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was passed to require that mine sites be restored to their original contours. The act also requires a mine operator to submit a land restoration plan and an acid mine leachate mitigation plan before a mine permit is issued.

One of the coolest aspects of gold is that it can be recycled. In recent years, with gold prices at all-time highs, people across the country have organized gold parties in an effort to recycle old gold jewelry. At a gold party, old, broken, and rarely used jewelry that contains gold can be sold for cash and turned into new jewelry. Gold recycling is not limited to jewelry. Many of your everyday electronics, such as computers and cell phones, also contain small amounts of recyclable gold.

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