It is obvious that the mining industry for both diamond and gold is filled with controversial issues. One of the most prevalent issue is the negative environmental impacts that the mining industry has on our earth. Issues, such as sustainability and global warming, have been fought against and denied since the industrial revolution. This way of cost-benefit business thinking has only contributed to further disintegration of our ecosystems and it is time that we address our consequences.
You might not think you are directly correlated to the unethical practices of mining, but as a consumer you are a much stronger driving force that you take credit for. Every purchase you make and decision you take drives the demand on certain industries. Mining in both gold and diamond industries vary but often share the same environmental impacts.
Typical mining of gold is more toxic than diamond mining, which contains as many as three DOZEN dangerous chemicals including; arsenic, lead, mercury, petroleum byproducts, acids, and cyanide. These chemicals are usually not disposed of properly and can affect the surrounding water, earth, and animals.
There has been evidence that various water sources near mining sites are often polluted and contribute to the death of wildlife. Companies mining for gold and other metals in total dump at least 180 million tons of toxic waste into rivers, lakes, and oceans each year—more than 1.5 times the waste that U.S. cities send to landfills on a yearly basis. These toxins can be found in fish, frogs, birds and eventually follow the food chain to people in the surrounding areas.
If you think that pollution only happens in isolated areas, you would be wrong. The Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea dumps over 5 million tons of toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean each year, destroying corals and other ocean life.
As a Californian, I take this to heart. San Diego literally has the Pacific Ocean at its doorstep. Basic geology tells us that all bodies of water return to ground zero, also known as the ocean. We can infer that all contaminated water will one day find itself at our city. The ocean we surf, swim in, and enjoy with our children is slowly being filled with contaminates.
One of the major impacts that mining has on the area is modification of the land. Mines are essentially deep holes in the ground, so much of the earth gets displaced from excavation.
Mining activities may lead to large-scale erosion, which is dangerous for local population and can reduce the biodiversity of an area. In addition, the damage caused by mines on the surface due to the consequent erosion and sedimentation of the river and streambeds is made more serious due to heaps of rock residues lacking economic value, that usually form great mounds, sometimes larger than the area given over to excavation
These dirt heaps consisting of loose dirt cannot support any vegetation and often cause mud slides to occur and prevent other plants from growing. The loose dirt also is susceptible to “sediment” slides due to environmental exposure such as rain and wind.
Not only is the earth displaced but also modified at the surface for accessibility. Kono, in the heart of the diamond mining region in Sierra Leone has experienced complete loss of rich agricultural soil and farming fields to mining debris.
The impacts of mining also affect the wildlife in the surrounding area. Like we discussed above the loss of resources and habitats displaces many of the animals in the region.
Explosives and loud drilling also scares and affects animals during the day. These large mining areas force animals to relocate to foreign habitats creating a ripple effect throughout the land. Deforestation is also another factor of habitat loss.
Deforestation has several effects. Birds, animals, and creatures that depend on trees and plants for food or shelter lose their homes or starve to death. Any remaining survivors are forced to relocate and find a new dwelling.
Following the food chain will show us that loss of vegetation leads to herbivores to either starve or relocate, which will lead to predators to starve and follow herbivores to relocation.
Mining has many consequences for the ecosystem and the earth. We only covered a small portion of the negative impacts of traditional mining. ENJI takes great pride in being an ethical and sustainable business. We always believe there is a choice in our consumption needs and do our best to inform our audience of responsible purchasing options. ENJI is happy to answer any questions you might have about any of our products.