- Education and Science
Gold Mining - Luxury Or Necessity?
Can It Be?
Gold mining is known to be hard on wildlife. Yet, wildlife includes creatures of every shape and size - the large mammals we are familiar with, to smaller creatures, even birds and insects. Gold mining really compares well with other necessary industries... wait a minute. What's this you tell me? That the mining of gold is necessary to industry? Gold, for untold years, has been used as an investment, and to create jewelry.
Nowadays, we are entering... well let's call it the age of electronics. I use a computer to type articles for you; cars have been invented which operate electronically. Wouldn't it be handy to have a substance which was not only an excellent electrical conductor, but was highly malleable, to form tiny circuits required by these inventions?
We've discovered such a substance. It is spelled G-O-L-D. Pardon my sense of humour. The usefulness, besides the beauty, of gold, has become undeniable.
It is a substance which, if I may say so, is meant to be mined. Let's do it with as little impact as possible.
It is well documented how many animals are killed by existing mines. Let us also consider the changes in the pathways of travel of many other creatures, both large and small. They are careful not to go near the mining operation. Open pit mines containing the mineral pyrite, including most gold mines, are known to create acid water. Therefore the waters surrounding a mine, from creeks and rivers, to the groundwater itself, can be acidified. Many animal species smell the changes in nature, and avoid the mine in their natural pathways. This can include anything from large mammals, like deer, elk, wolves, and coyotes, to birds, and even insects.
This creation of acid continues long after the mining has been finished. The solution? The mined rock must be covered by soils, which protect pyrite from exposure to air. This can be accomplished by the mining party, or by an independent agency.
Mines are traditionally left in an exposed state, to respect the options of the owners of the mine, with the changing value of the metal. Abandoned mines. however, tend to pollute the local environment long after the mine's closure, and must be reclaimed.
Gold mining: adventure or necessity? As we enter an age of electronics such as we've never known before, gold appears to be changing from a luxury into a very useful substance. Let's gain for it the respect it now deserves.