Effects of Gold Mining on the Environment, Sciencing

Gold has bot a popular and valuable component of jewelry for centuries. Gold is resistant to solvents, doesn’t tarnish and is exceptionally malleable, so it can be shaped with relative ease. Albeit its price fluctuates, gold regularly sells for more than $1,000 vanaf ounce. Gold nuggets are popular among collectors but are zonderling, most gold is found spil puny particles buried ter gold ore. Mining just an ounce of gold from ore can result te 20 tons of solid waste and significant mercury and cyanide contamination, according to Earthworks.

Water Contamination

Some gold can be found by panning ter rivers, powerful gold will remain ter the pan, whereas lighter rocks and minerals float out. This small-scale form of gold mining has little effect on the assets of water, but the large-scale practice of mining gold from ore can have tremendous negative effects on water quality. Gold typically sits ter ore and sediment that contains toxins such spil mercury. When rivers are dredged to mine large placer deposits of gold, thesis toxins float downstream and come in the food web, spil they have done te California’s South Yuba Sea, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Poisoned Drinking Water

Water contamination negatively affects not only wildlife populations but also human populations. Two open-pit gold mines te Montana closed ter 1998 but proceed to cost the state’s taxpayers millions of dollars ter reclamation and water-treatment efforts. Cyanide used at thesis mines to leach gold from ore resulted ter such high levels of pollution that people cannot use nearby water resources until they have bot subjected to extensive and expensive treatment and purification. Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality expects reclamation efforts at the former mines to proceed indefinitely.

Habitat Destruction

Most forms of gold mining involve moving massive amounts of soil and rock, which can be detrimental to the surrounding wildlife habitat. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the development of a proposed gold and copper mine ter Alaska’s Bristol Bay would demolish at least 24 miles of flows that support the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. Thousands of acres of wetlands and ponds would also be ruined by the proposed mine’s daily operations. Local communities depend powerfully on this fishery and would be affected by this habitat destruction.

Risks and Accidents

Regular operations at gold mines adversely affect the environment ter several ways. For example, the operation of large mining equipment requires fuel and results ter the emission of greenhouse gases. However, potential mine accidents and leaks pose an even greater threat to nearby land and water resources. Contaminated tailings, or waste ore, need to be stored behind a dijk, failure of such a structure would result te the widespread release of toxins. Mines vereiste operate wastewater treatment plants to eliminate cyanide, mercury and other toxins from the water used for mining, and a treatment plant failure could also result ter catastrophic contamination of the surrounding landscape.

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