Environmental damage is endemic to industrial scale gold mining around the world – acid mine drainage, tailings ponds failures and pollution linked to processing that uses cyanide and other toxic chemicals to concentrate gold.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We see a couple of options, depending on your point of view.
We think it’s entirely reasonable to believe that industrial gold mining cannot be reformed. In that case, it makes sense to discourage industrial gold mining by choking off demand for gold from industrial mines or divesting shares from these large companies. To further that goal you could buy responsibly-produced recycled gold, or gold from responsible artisanal mines, or… not buy gold at all.
We think it’s also entirely reasonable to believe that industrial gold mines aren’t going away. In that case, it makes sense to support efforts at reform. In The Shadow of Gold we show one such initiative: A Nobel Prize winning chemist, Sir Fraser Stoddart, has discovered an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to isolate gold using Cyladex – a naturally occurring compound derived from cornstarch. One gold industry CEO, Comstock Mining’s Corrado De Gasperis, has invested in this technology and is currently scaling it up for production. Will the Cyladex method solve industrial mining’s environmental problems? No. They are much more complex. But it could be a step in the right direction towards a more sustainable approach. We invite you to find out more about Cycladex and other initiatives aimed at making industrial gold mining more sustainable such as those advocated by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).
Another story we look at in the film is the devastating tailings pond disaster at Mount Polley in British Columbia. It’s been several years since and no one has been held to account…yet. You could support the core recommendations of the expert panel on Mount Polley and let the federal government of Canada know that you believe they should address the concerns of indigenous people like FNWARM in the area and enforce the fisheries act. You can support government initiatives or watchdog organizations like MiningWatch Canada that aim to eliminate the most destructive practices around the world and hold mining companies to account.