Ethical Gold - Golden Suisse

Ethical Gold

Background

The financial value of gold is well known to many. What is often forgotten is that there is also an ethical value in gold. Dirty gold mining has a history of civil war, labour abuses, and environmental devastation. Gold mining in particular can be environmentally destructive, and many gold miners earn low wages in dangerous working conditions.

Why Giving Back Matters

The precious metal has transformed La Rinconada into a chaotic village of nearly 50,000 inhabitants (four times more than the past) with a serious lack of social services. The increase in the price of gold (25% last year and 600% in ten years) has pushed many more people to move up there. GoldenSuisse aims to make a difference by providing discretionary social assistance to illegal gold mining settlements, by providing Medical support and aid for children and their mothers.

.

Donate on the GoldenSuisse app.


.

.

.

.

GoldenSuisse Humanitarian aid at La Rinconada

Our work towards a more ethical gold begins in an illegal Peruvian goldmine, at La Rinconada, the highest city in the world with 70.000 inhabitants at 5,500 meters altitude. GOLDENSUISSE DOES NOT SOURCE GOLD FROM LA RINCONADA, NOR ANY OTHER ILLEGAL GOLDMINE. OUR SUPPORT IS SOLELY HUMANITARIAN.

.

.

.

.

 

Consequences of dirty mining

 

Toxic waste

Modern industrial gold mining destroys landscapes and creates huge amounts of toxic waste. Due to the use of dirty practices such as open pit mining and cyanide heap leaching, mining companies generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every 0.333-ounce gold ring. The waste, usually a grey liquid sludge, is laden with deadly cyanide and toxic heavy metals.

Mercury Pollution

The use of mercury in gold mining is causing a global health and environmental crisis. Mercury, a liquid metal, is used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining to extract gold from rock and sediment. Unfortunately, mercury is a toxic substance that wreaks havoc on miners’ health, not to mention the health of the planet. For every gram of gold produced, artisanal gold miners release about two grams of mercury into the environment. Together, the world’s 10 to 15 million artisanal gold miners release about 1000 tons of mercury into the environment each year, or 35 percent of man-made mercury pollution. Artisanal gold mining is actually among the leading causes of global mercury pollution, ahead of coal-fired power plants. Mercury is extremely harmful to human health. The amount of vapor released by mining activities has been proven to damage the kidneys, liver, brain, heart, lungs, colon, and immune system. Chronic exposure to mercury may result in fatigue, weight loss, tremors, and shifts in behavior. In children and developing fetuses, mercury can impair neurological development.

Acid Drainage

Dirty gold mining often leads to a persistent problem known as acid mine drainage. The problem results when underground rock disturbed by mining is newly exposed to air and water. Iron sulfides (often called “fool’s gold”) in the rock can react with oxygen to form sulfuric acid. Acidic water draining from mine sites can be 20 to 300 times more concentrated than acid rain, and it is toxic to living organisms. The dangers increase when this acidic water runs over rocks and strips out other embedded heavy metals. Rivers and streams can become contaminated with metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, and iron. Cadmium has been linked to liver disease, while arsenic can cause skin cancer and tumors. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and impaired development in children. Iron is less dangerous, although it gives rivers and streams a slimy orange coating and the smell of rotten eggs.

Deforestation

A gold mining boom is accelerating the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, a biologically diverse ecosystem that acts as a check on global warming. Artisanal, or small-scale, gold miners are tearing down the forest to access the rich gold deposits beneath. One study found that deforestation rates in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon have increased six-fold due to gold mining.

.

.

.

.

.

Alexandra Sundell

VP Corporate Social Responsibility