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Gold Mining

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Gold Mining Facts

  • A single gold ring leaves in its wake at least 20 tons of mine waste Dirty Gold. Metal mines in the US produced 46 percent of toxic waste of the total for all US industry combined
  • 96 percent of all reported arsenic emissions, and 76 percent of all lead emissions in the US are from metal mines
  • Every year, mines in the U.S. generate an amount of waste equivalent in weight to nearly nine times the trash produced by all its cities and towns combined.
  • Most gold is not used for essential services; more than 80 percent is used to make jewelry.
  • Metals mining is the number one toxic polluter in the United States, responsible for 96 percent of arsenic emissions and 76 percent of lead emissions.
  • The world's largest open pit, the Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, is visible to astronauts from outer space. It measures 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) deep and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) across.
  • Metals mining employs just 0.09 percent of the global workforce but consumes as much as 10 percent of world energy.
  • According to the International Labour Organization, mining is responsible for 5 percent of workplace deaths each year.
  • A single gold mine in Papua New Guinea, the Ok Tedi mine, daily generates 200,000 tons of waste per day-more than all the cities in Japan, Canada and Australia combined.
  • Cyanide is used by large mining operations to separate gold from ore. Cyanide pollution is a major concern. A rice-grain sized dose of cyanide can be fatal to humans; concentrations of 1 microgram (one-millionth of a gram) per liter of water can be fatal to fish.

To learn more about the impacts of mining read our report Dirty Metals: Mining, Communities, and the Environment.

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