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Discuss "Digging gold"


This paper will discuss “Digging gold” case in detail and provide answers to various questions that arose after studying the case. This research will answer to :the types of pollutions that are generated by the gold mining companies, pollution effect on the environment, governmental regulations that would address the pollution problem, role of NGO’S (Non-governmental organizations) and citizens to reduce environmental effects of gold mining, and the companies who are less or more environmentally responsible. Generally, Gold mining is the process of mining gold from the ground.

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Gold is one of the most attractive and a highly valuable metal, known for decades. Gold is used in number of fields such as jewelry, dentistry, modern technological applications, in computer chips, lens surfaces, investments, setting currency value and so on.(R. James Weick, 1994).Gold is found widespread in various natural substances such as, sea water, earth’s crust, sedimentary rocks rivers etc. However,” its overall concentration is very low (about 5 milligrams per ton of rock), rich concentrations of gold, forming ore deposits, are known n throughout the world.

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”(Dr. Bill Birch).

Gold mostly exist with other metals. such as lead, zinc, silver or copper and sometimes found free in nature. Gold takes place in variety of forms such as: wire gold, nail gold, mustard gold , paint gold, disseminated, irregular grains, scales, plates and vein lets with microscopic dimensions, and as larger compact, reticulated, spongy or hackly masses or slugs.(Dr. Bill Birch). So Gold mining is the process of mining gold ores from the ground. It is done in two types: Open pit mining and underground mining. Gold Extraction procss


Under the classification system presented in the section “Major Areas of Environmental Regulation” three pollution types are described, such as Air pollution, Land pollution and Water pollution. All these three pollutions are generated by the gold mining companies. Their effect on environment is discussed below: Air pollution: When pollutants are not diluted properly and are emitted into the atmosphere, called air pollution. The process used to extract metal, release very harmful toxins that cause pollution such as: Lead, Sulfur, Nitrogen, Mercury, Zinc, Cadmium, and Uranium. These toxins can result in number of diseases to workers and the local people. The inhalation of such toxins may cause impaired vision, muscle weakness, kidney damage, nerve damage, anemia, metal fume fever etc. (No dirty gold campaign). According to the US Toxics Release Inventory, the metal mining industry in the United States contributed the following, in 2010: * 92% of industrial mercury emissions

  • * 94% of industrial arsenic emissions
  • * 73% of known Carcinogenic waste

Water pollution: Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged into water bodies without the proper treatment to remove harmful compounds from water. Acid mine drainage, metal contamination, increased levels in streams are the major problems caused by mining to water. These problems affects domestic water supply, irrigation, swimming, fisheries, living organisms ,drinking and various other uses of streams. Acid rain ,caused by iron sulfide that mix with air and water, severe pollution hazard to ground water, surrounding soil and the surface water. (Pollution- issues- mining). Land pollution: Land pollution means damage to land in any form; such as, erosion, formation of sinkholes, deforestation, biodiversity loss, contamination of soil etc. (Wikipedia). Mining needs to clear a large part of the land to be dig, which means that area, can be created by harming vegetation and cutting trees. The chemicals used during mining process are leaked into the land that affect to land.

The basic necessities of a living organism are land, water and air. If any of these is affected, it creates problem for an organism. From above description on pollution effects on environment shows that all three are damaging to the environment equally. But the most endangering is the water pollution because Governmental regulation that effectively concerns the problem:

The three alternative approaches discussed in the textbook to address the pollution problems are: Environmental problems, Market based Mechanisms, information disclosure, civil and criminal enforcement. Among these four approaches, information disclosure approach is more effective in case of mining industries to control environment pollution. Reasons in favor of Information Disclosure approach:

Under this approach firms are encourage by the government to pollute less by providing information about the amount of pollutant individual companies emit. The various acts like SARA- right to know law and TRI-Toxics Release Inventory provide information to the public, relating to the environment loss lead by a certain company. This approach is effective because no company wants to be criticized and embarrassed in the public.

Role of NGO’S and citizens movements

The citizen movements and NGO’s can play a vital in reducing the adverse environment effects of the mining companies. The case mention three types of NGO and citizens movements started to reduce the adverse environmental effects of gold mining companies. First is the Romanian citizen’s group called Alburnus Maiors that was initiated by the local farmer and the activist to block the construction of a new gold mine? Second, The Newmont Mining Company was sued by the villagers of Peru, after they were hurt by the mercury spill by a truck. Third, “No Dirty Gold” campaign was initiated by the Earthworks that were aimed for the jewelry retailers. (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). More and Less environmentally responsible companies

Number of companies is mentioned in the case, for example Kennecott, Tiffany, Canyon Resources and Free port McMoran. More responsible companies: Among these companies, Kennecott and Tiffany are more responsible companies because Kennecott had made a public commitment to sustainability whereas Tiffany had made concern about its public image. Less responsible companies: The companies that are less responsible are Canyon Resources and Freeport Mc Moran in Indonesia. The reason that makes Canyon Resources, less responsible is that it uses destructive methods to extract gold when citizens voted to ban cyanide heap-leach mining. Freeport Mc Moran in Indonesia appears to be doing business with weak environmental laws and enforcement.


Gold digging and extraction process have a number of effects on environment. “Gold mining is one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the world.” (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Following is the list and effects of pollution on environment.


  1. R., James Weick. (1994). Natural Resources: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador- Canada. Geological Survey: Gold Occurrences.
  2. Dr. Birch, Bill. Geology of Gold: Formation of Gold: Museum Victoria.
  3. Prof. Kakharov, Abrol. (2013).Gold Extraction Process: Diagram.
  4. Lawrence, A. & Weber, J. Business and Society: Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy (14th Ed.) Managing Environmental Issues. McGraw Hill.
  5. No DirtyGoldCampaign:AirImpact.
  6. Wikipedia: Environmental Impact of Mining.
  7. Mining: Pollution Issues.

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Discuss "Digging gold". (2016, Jun 14). Retrieved from

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