Metal mining methods

where do we get our metals?? i just saw a national geographic
special on depleting water for tribes in mongolia and high cancer
rate as well, by companies that mine gold there. I know that this
happens in many situations with all the metals, i don’t know the
percentage of precious metal taken responsibly which means cleanly,
without harming life, and poisoning water. I make jewelry from wood,
mostly wood i find cut down, and i say mostly, because i make most of
my personal, as i call it, jewelry, from only wood that i find
felled, but i have accounts which are so far, crucial to my financial
state, meaning paying my rent, that want me to work in ebony, which
is threatened as well as the deforestation factor to the indigenous.
Anyway i have seen too many of these specials on tv lately, last
week i saw on on mining silver in the andes, and all the surrounding
indigenous people along those rivers were also in the same
predicament- very high cancer rates, and a beautiful natural water
supply that is gone. problem is that even if these people do get a
movement going against the ruination of their rivers, and the
government concedes by closing down sites; how long does it take for
clean water to run again? Yes it takes major cleanup efforts, and
many years, and as one site is closed 10 permits are issued for
other sites!! It doesn’t make sense that people and children suffer
with tumors and death so industrialized nations can wear shiny metal
on their bodies, and say to their loved ones “i love you”, as they
say, "i kill you " to the people out near these mines. I’m sure many
people on this site know alot about all aspects of this problem, but
sweep it under the rug because they are already into it neck deep,
like i am with ebony, and dreading evey thought of it- that i must
stop my use somehow, cause i might lose my high end accounts! One
more thing; when i was young i was vegetarian and didn’t even wear
leather because i didn’t want to kill animals but i was working in a
sculpture supply store in manhattan and someone put a note on the
board “carvers wanted”, i was young and clueless(1980), and after i
started that 10 year apprenticeship as it turned out, i soon found
out that it was mostly carving ivory-illegal elephant ivory, i
stayed on the basis of feeding my new family. Yes i learned alot
from a master carver, and became a master myself after 10 years, so i
don’t want to leave carving cause i love it, but i can no longer
kill people and animals because i like the art. We must become more
aware of our situation in relation to others, even though they are
thousands of miles away and we can’t see their plight!!! dp


as it is in Belgium in this very moment.

Fact is that if you don’t get a product from factory A then you’ll
go the factory B! If factory C sells the same product at a lower
price quess what and that’s all what counts roughly spoken.

I believe that we are living in a world of reusing scraps and
finding other way’s to get a hold on products like Gold, Platinum,
palladium and others. The industrie itself is not alway’s that bad,
it’s our demand for luxury, for more then we already have, for newer
products. Check out yourself and find out howmuch more you have then
the kids living somewhere on a dumping place.

Have a look on youtube and look what people do with
chemistry…just for fun, How they use coke and other foodproducts
for experimenting instead of collecting it and give it to they who
really need it. Did you ever payed attention what they are doing with
the used chemicals?

However, goldsmiths keep their scraps and get it refind by people
who know how to deal with this dangerous stuff and they know how to
turn their chemicals to another factory for disposal. It might be
that not everyone is acting like this but look what all the people do
on this forum. They are giving advice in the best way they can about
disp=F4sal, handling and taking care of dangerous chemicals. We are
helping others to have a better life by spending tools and knowledge.
This world is getting better even with all the wars and stupidity of
killing people BUT… it’s not happening overnight.

If I can sell a nice peace of jewelry to someone and make him/her
happy, then I get a reward payed in money. With this money I’m able
to send my kids to school and give them the chance for a good
education, food and cloding. My family will be happy and healthy.
That’s the reason why everybody does it. That’s the reason of this
forum. We’re helping others out in a way to make this world better.

Depleting water in Mongolia, don’t make me laugh, honnestly, have a
look in your state aswell as I take a look in the rivers and streams
in my country and… we don’t do it for gold nor silver! One can
sit down behind his TV watching Nat Geo, Disc Chan, feeling bad about
things or one can raise his bud and make a change.

The world isn’t that bad Dave and we are making progress but slowly.
Do what you can and at your level. Stand up with a smile in the
morning and make a small change. The bottle can be at the same time
half empty and half full. Look what we can do with a population of
6,795,723,218 people minus one, because he’s watching TV.

Don’t feel offented by this mail, that’s not the purpace of it.
Let’s make it better and not worse, start today and not tomorrow.

Best wishes and specially for you Dave

Best regards

Hey Dave, greed is the reason these companies mine without regard for
indigenous people, flora and fauna. Minerals can be mined with
minimal impact to the surroundings but it doesn’t produce as much
money. If mining were restricted to the people who had to live and
stay there you would see ecological mining. Kudos to you for being
globally aware of how our actions can affect others we may never see.

If your interested in ecological mining look into dredges. Basically
they are river vaccums drawing rocks, sediments and precious metals
through a sluice to collect the heavy materials and returning the
rest to the river.

I used to dredge and I can tell you from experience that dredges do
not harm rivers or their inhabitants, to the contrary I see fish
congregating around my dredge to feast on the insect larve and other
critters brought up by the dredge.

Dredging also clears the accumulated silt that creates perfect
spawning beds for many species of fish. I liike that as I am a catch
and release “barbless” fisherman.

Have a good one, Jim Dohert

It seems life is nothing but a series of contradictions. We are
willfully blind to our own and want to control other’s
contradictions. The minimum a person can do is do right by your
values right now. More can be done in the way of joining
organizations, voting your conscious and spending your money only on
things that reflect your values. Much more can be done. Also, be

Sam Patania

Without exception, every metal and industrial material we use comes
from the ground. Through mining.

Mining is the basis of our modern, industrialized society. Without
it, man never would have been able to advance from the stone age to
the bronze age. We will leave aside the question if using stone age
’stone’ was mining or not.

the gold in the contacts of, the hydrocyanic acid use to make, the
chips in the computer that you are reading this on, it all one way
or another is a product of mining.

as metalsmiths, every metal we use is mined, the exception of

Warm regards
Mmark Zirinsky, Denver
Bsc Mining Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, 1983

There is a saying, oft quoted as originating in Nevada that says ‘if
it doesnt grow, you have to mine it’ This applies as much to water
as it does to minerals and metals. The minority who try and live as
you do can only do so because someone else suffers. they suffer
because they will not get the opportunity you did because they cannot
go through the development their country needs to that allows people
to make genuine choices because we choose not to let them. {carbon
emissions environmental conservation etc} I used to know a chap who
was Zambia’s national artist- he was my house guest when he was
training and exhibiting in London. he only got this opportunity
because he was a gelogical technician in Zambia and he had a
relative look after his family whilst he stayed with me. I met him
because I helped train him as a technician, not through his art.
Copper mining gave him the funding to travel and then progress his

My brother recently returned from Mongolia and told me about life
there. the people are enormously hospitable but outside of a couple
of towns or cities incredibly poor and still largely nomadic. The
expansion of Chinese and western mining interests has given them
relatively highly paid jobs and some new model towns and villages.
Life is poor compared to where we live but they are 100 times better
off than their counterparts.

I have met miners from the Andes, South Africa, and most western
countries and the indivdual prospectors/miners/smelters from the
Andes {Bolivia} had more skill and pride in their work than any of
the rest. They are poor but it again, is relative. Most precious
metals are recycled. nearly all the gold mined in Roman times is
still with us-just we wouldnt recognise it. There is a Metallurgist
at King’s College London who does trace element analysis of gold to
determine its origins and the results are quite surprising. Soldiers
during the english civil war of 1640-1645 wore armour left in England
by the Romans 1250 years earlier. It had been continually reused.

Roman miners at Rio Tinto in Spain were amongst the richest people in
the early Roman empire. The down side was they lived to an average
age of 28 which was only half the average for their peers.
Basically, man has always suffered to win the treasures of the earth
but winning them has invariably improved the lot of those who worked
freely to do so. Where people really suffer is where slavery exists
in all but name and the miners are exploited by gangs, governemnts
and crooked business. this trade has more in common with the
narcotics trade than the metals or jewellery trade and the products
should be handled in a similar vein. the same apllies to ivory, wood
and even the food you eat. Giant cartels control the commodities
prices of coffee, bananas and most other crops from developing
countries wheras the mining industry prices are determined by true
supply and demand Which is better?.

Nick Royall

sorry pedro, but regardless of what you have said here, for
myself, i have become more and more concerned about people and other
living things as i have gotten older, and for my world, i cannot let
myself buy ebony anymore, even tho i make money from it to feed my
family, i cannot kill trees at all, i don’t do it for myself, and i
sure don’t want to do it for my accounts who sell my carvings for
mega bucks, as they put diamonds and gold in them. The wood that i
find myself, already cut down, is as beautiful as any precious wood.
People, at least, owe it to themselves and all the indigenous that
get stepped on, if they get stepped on, to be aware of where and how
the materials they use are produced, even if they don’t think it will
change their actions, and to sweep it under the rug, ignore it, and
chalk it up to the fact that they are feeding their families, and
you can’t control industry, just does not cut it to me, and it
certainly does not cut it to people that die and suffer because of
industry methods. The people of the world might be getting more aware
everyday, as i hope you are saying, but you are very narrowminded to
believe that greedy corporations, and businesspeople are doing the
same. Their method is take it if you can get it without being
caught, and bribe if that does not work, that is how it goes sir,
and they don’t bribe the people of the land, but their wealthy
governments that want the money and are willing to see their own
people suffer to get it. It is more correct to say that the earth and
it’s poorest people, that live off the land, are being raped and
killed with disease so you and your customers can look at precious
metal on their bodies, so you can feed your children, they lose
their children and habitat, and they wear jewelry made from
feathers, and wood and bottlecaps, your customers, gold, platinum,
diamonds so you can see them smile, please get a grip. It is callous
to make light of it! It’s like lobbying, paying off government to get
big money, what is currently bringing our country(usa) to it’s
death!!, dp

dp. i respect your opinion. i am sorry that you probably wont be
able to read my answer, you are in the process of getting rid of your
computer, aren’t you?

Computer production has severe environmental impacts associated
with! long-term health effects on workers, families and neighboring
communities due to chemical exposure and emissions from production
stages such as microchip fabrication is only one of them, not
mentioning possible health impacts due to exposure to hazardous
materials contained in computer products, in particular brominated
flame retardants and lead.

as Sam said yesterday,

 It seems life is nothing but a series of contradictions. We are
willfully blind to our own and want to control other's

It would be interesting to see how you measure with the same “green
ruler” your other aspects of life and how it will affect you and
your family.


My brother recently returned from Mongolia and told me about life
there. the people are enormously hospitable but outside of a
couple of towns or cities incredibly poor and still largely

I actually been to Mongolia. People there are so poor that it defies
imagination. Even firewood for cooking is difficult to obtain at
times. Do you know how Mongols prepare meat? Here is the recipe: May be
some of you, who lamenting the fact, that people there would get some
decent paying jobs, would want to try it.

In the morning, take a piece of meat that you planning to eat at the
end of the day and place it on horse back underneath the saddle.
After riding all day, the meat will be ready for consumption. No
cooking required. Take it from under the saddle, some salt, some
pepper, and enjoy.

Let me know how you like it, so we can discuss some more whether or
not, people of Mongolia should allow gold mining, or any other
industry for that matter.

Leonid Surpin

If I deliver Meals on Wheels, my exhaust creates acid rain. When I
exhale I contribute to global warming. If I grab a burger on the way
home, I’m an animal murderer. If I make a piece of jewelry for
someone who wants to show their love for another, I’m killing natives
in the Andes. Thinking about all this “stuff” makes me want to go
into the back room and blow my brains out, but I’m afraid my
tombstone would say - Gun Loving Idiot.


I’ve just been discussing this a bit on FB; it’s not just metals,
it’s stones too and then, if you watch things like FoodInc you start
to realize it’s our way of modern life - would you like to use
leather from cows that have been raised so ‘inhumanely’?.

And you’re right, in our chosen business, it can mean the difference
between us being successful and not - how do you even gather reliable
to decide where to draw a line? Everyone has their angle
to sell, so each will tell their story with their bias; like the
mining in the Andes - I also read that some miners reported that
their income is so far above what they could otherwise possibly earn
that the dangers are almost irrelevant.

It’s hard for ‘westerners’ to understand, but when you have a choice
between no earnings or wages so low your lack of ability to care for
yourself will lead to earlier death anyway, the choice of real,
earnings now becomes a better choice. At least if you’re smart, you
can pave a better way for your children. I know it’s really not that
simple either since the health of your children probably is at risk
too, but these are the kind of complex equations that really exist.

In most of the Caribbean we’re not in such dire straits but we do
get to closer witness some of the ironies of protective laws that are
imposed on use of many natural resources consequently disadvantaging
local populations, removing their ability (traditional or
contemporary) to earn their living. It’s rare that such moves are
done to fully take into account the real needs of humans.

So, back to what to do. I don’t have an answer except to do what you
can to find out where your materials come from and as much as you can
about how they are gotten. Seek as many sides of the conversation as
you can and then decide. In some cases, high end clients can be found
that appreciate ‘sustainable’ materials too. For now, personally, I
can’t say I’m having to deal with that level of decision making :slight_smile:
Nonetheless, I even wonder about the mining processes and effects of
the ‘cheap’ stones I use - I doubt very much they’re done with
sustainability and the good of the local population in mind.


Hello Leonard,

Wow, that story about how to prepare meat a la Mongole really caught
my eye. The reason being I first heard exactly that same story when
I was in elementary school learning about the early invasions of
Europe by “barbarians” from the East; Huns, Mongols and their ilk. I
never forgot the story. The only detail I can add is that one of the
meats that was specifically mentioned as a routine part of their diet
was rats. Which is fine - probably rat meat tastes the same as all
other unconventional meats are usually described (i.e. snake, turtle,
cat et al) “Try it! It’s just like chicken.” Anyway, this is the
first time I’ve heard the story since way back then - about 60 years
ago - and I am delighted to see it is still being passed down from
generation to generation. I have no reason to doubt its truth. As
one who has spent my early working years as a chef, it makes eminent
good sense. Probably the method does a great deal to improve the
tenderness of whatever meat is subjected to it. The rationale behind
the method was that the Mongols were fast-moving invaders who wanted
to arrive at their next targeted village before news of their
approach could get there - so they didn’t want to take time to stop
and cook. It also enhanced their public image as wild and crazy

A version of this mobile-cooking technique is practiced here in
North America today. Travelers wrap the evening’s intended meal in
aluminum foil and then wire it to the exhaust manifold of their
vehicle’s engine. By the end of a day’s drive the meal is ready to
eat. Somebody has actually written a cookbook on how to do this. I
haven’t seen the book but I can imagine a recipe instructing one to
cook something for 4 hours at 55 miles per hour or something similar.
I wonder if you’d have to alter the recipe depending upon whether
you’re driving a 4, 6, or 8-cylinder car? Incidentally, I believe
the proponents of this method believe the quality of the experience
is enhanced if the meat of the day is fresh roadkill, of which there
is, unfortunately, too much available. Using this source of
nourishment saves the time and expense of detouring to find a
supermarket in unfamiliar territory.

I see that you have been to Mongolia and so, without casting the
slightest doubt upon your veracity, I would like to ask if you have
actually seen the saddle-cooking technique practiced with your own
eyes? Or was it just a story you heard? I can imagine Mongolians
might enjoy passing this old story on to impress tourists, just like
cowboys here enjoy watching dudes discover what that plate of
"prairie oysters" really is.

Marty in Victoria BC, where my son-in-law is a failed vegetarian.

I was in elementary school learning about the early invasions of
Europe by "barbarians" from the East; Huns, Mongols and their ilk.
I never forgot the story. The only detail I can add is that one of
the meats that was specifically mentioned as a routine part of
their diet was rats 

I was in Mongolia in 1979 and it was still practiced, and yes I saw
it with my own eyes.

I do like to address the above. I believe that I know a lot about
Mongols. I have my doubts about the Mongols eating rats, even when
they are starving. Food has a lot more meaning there, than in our
modern society. The part of an animal served, the place at the
table, the order of service - everything has tremendous importance in
their society. Anybody consuming a rat, would be an outcast for the
rest of his life. What was acceptable is to make incision on horse
neck and drink blood. Another practice was they would cut a strip of
flesh from horses back and eat it also. Somehow, it did not hurt the

To call them barbarians also would be a mistake. Mongols were the
only army that ever conquered Russia in all the History. Nobody could
ever do it, not before and not after. At a time they had the most
sophisticated weapon technology available, and military tactics were
hundreds of years ahead of their time, so barbarians they were not.

They also have the best trout fishing in the world, at least they
used to.

Leonid Surpin

My construction worker husband told me about a back hoe operator who
used to keep his lunch in the machine’s engine compartment, and it
was nice and warm when he got ready to eat it.

Vicki K

Check out Manifold Destiny:

It’s the cookbook with recipes for cooking food in foil on your car
/truck/ camper engine while you drive.


Regarding Manifold Destiny, I have read about this group in the Bay
Area! I think driving around on Thanksgiving day, visiting friends
while cooking your turkey on the engine’s manifold, is just a
perfect thing to do! I’m not a meat-eater, but engine cooking really
appeals to me. Do you suppose Mobil One 10-30 weight has a light
taste and prevents food sticking to the foil??

Jay Whaley

This may be a myth. But I was told that in the olden days cowboys on
the range would put a cut of beef under their saddles and after a day
of riding around the beef would be tender and almost ready to eat.



Maybe these link would interest you or help you on your search:

I think that it is possible to get socially/environmentally
responsible materials, such as gold and silver. Many of the US
suppliers offer metals that have been “recycled” or “green”, so no
mining was involved in their recent incarnation. Hoover and Strong,
Rio Grande, and Stuller all refine scrap and use in their stock

Melissa Stenstrom

Do you suppose Mobil One 10-30 weight has a light taste and
prevents food sticking to the foil?? 

Try Peanut oil. That way, you’ll get edible bird, plus oil drips will
give your engine block a beautiful traditional peanut oil patina. The
wonderful darkened oil finish on your engine will not only mark you
as a gourmand of distinction, but also as a metalsmith of taste and
fine breeding… :slight_smile:

Peter Rowe

Uhh… not to ruffle any feathers here, but my company has been
queried by several environmentally-motivated groups who wish to know
certain things about our ability to use Environmentally-Friendly
materials in our production. Apparently, “Green” is their motivation.
Sure, we are Green. Have been for decades.

Well, I can assure any and all of them that my refiner is fully
behind being stocked with recycled gold/silver/palladium/platinum
derived from bench/floor sweeps and polishing dust.

Gold has been and still is, among the most recycled materials on
Earth. Long before “recycling” was a buzzword for environmentalists,
our industry depended on sweeps/scraps/dust for the procurement of
new material. Sadly, Cortez and his ilk melted some fabulous
artifacts into bullion which may be in your current inventory.
Forgive him for being “Green”.

Is this a no-brainer?