To All, This months Smithsonian magazine gives disturbing news about
gold mining procedures. We all know that mercury is used in mining
in South America, but did we know how much?
Just within the Amazon basin, some 1.2 million people extract
roughly 200 tons of gold a year, and the production of each gram of
gold requires one to four grams of mercury! Up to 40% of this
mercury escapes into the environment. An estimated 128 tons a year
leaches into the Amazon alone.
Research in Manu, Peru, and the nearby gold mining area show that
mercury levels in fish are too high for human consumption. Not only
are the fish at risk, the one and only refuge of the Giant Otter is
threatened, mercury accumulates in their bodies in toxic
The solution…is relatively simple. Miner could heat their ore in a
closed vessel, capturing most of the mercury. But miners dislike the
process-it produces a discolored lump of gold that fetches lower
prices. We all have most likely seen TV shows about this region and
the disregard for life including humans.
I put the question up, literally, to the globe here on Orchid. What’s
the proper solution?
Island Gold Works
Hilton Head S.C.