Open-pit gold mines essentially abolish the landscape, opening up vast craters, flattening or even inverting mountaintops, and producing 8 to 10 times more waste than underground mining. 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; 1 microgram (one-millionth of a gram) per litre of water can be fatal to fish.
Metals mining employs just 0.09 percent of the global workforce but consumes as much as 10 percent of world energy. Metals mining is the number one toxic polluter in the United States, responsible for 89% of arsenic releases, 85% of mercury releases, and 84% of lead releases in 2004.
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.
120,000 tons of toxic waste spilled from the Baia Mare gold mine in Romania in the year 2000, contaminating the drinking water of 2.5 million people and killing 1,200 tons of fish.
In May 1998 the Kyrgyzstan Kumtor mining project was responsible for the “accidental” dumping of 2 tons of sodium cyanide into the local rivers. June 1998 almost 2,000 kg of chemicals spilled into the Barskoon River. July 1998, in the same area, a container truck spilled 70 litres of nitric acid. During this period 3 people died and hundreds were poisoned by sodium cyanide. This picture is repeated across the world time and time again where ever gold is being mined. All along this trail of destruction and poisoning big business is making big money and at the end of the trail there is a simple band of gold on somebody’s finger. There should be a smell of dead fish from the finger.