Impact of Gold Mining in Tropical Rainforests
Be it gold, diamond, copper, palladium, rhodium or any other precious metals, they all are found in rainforests around the world and that is what attract mining companies to explore these regions to extract the precious metals and in that process they destroy rainforests. Mining to extract these metals involves destructive activities that brutally damages the ecosystem of our forests. It not only causes environmental problems to the rainforests but also to people living nearby, wild life and surrounding areas. If you see Amazon rainforests example, mining takes place in that region is done for alluvial gold deposits only. Due to long flowing course of amazing rivers, gold is found in both rivers and flood hit areas where those rivers once ran through. These alluvial gold deposits are heavily mined by large scale companies and illegal small scale miners as well. They mainly use hydraulic mining machines that blast away the river banks where mining is taking place. They also do deforesting on flood affected regions by using machinery to scan gold-yielding gravel deposits. This hydraulic technique make use of sluice box that can easily separate sediment and mercury to extract precious metals like gold, silver and copper. They generally remove mercury used in operation and sometimes throw it back in rivers which is why it is such a dangerous process that rainforests has to go through.
There has been several research studies on gold mining in rainforests and most of them suggests that small scale miners are generally the one who operates on less efficient mining technology therefore the use of mercury in their operations is less compared to industrial minders. According to the report by The World Gold Council, these minors release 2.3 pounds of mercury in river water for extraction of 1 kilogram of gold which is quite a high number for our environment and it adds to destruction of rainforests. At present there is no scientific evidence on chances of mercury contamination in rainforests, but there are studies that suggests it causes dangerous problems in other ecosystems. For example, mercury used in gold mining can be transferred into organic forms through biological process of food chains, and eventually it may lead to human consumption which could be catastrophic for mankind.
Industry operated large scale mining operations that are using open pit mining technology is the rot cause of deforestation in tropical forests of Amazon, and some asian countries. These companies creates roads, small infrastructure in the surround areas of the forest and then small scale minors also come there to destroy the forests to extract the remain gold left by large scale companies.
The way gold rates are skying every passing day, the problem for our rainforests is only going to increase because the rising demand of gold worldwide would force these companies to deforest and extract more gold. This is extremely dangerous for our future and at any cost should be stopped by the governments across the globe. You can also do your bit in stoping it by not purchasing gold for investment. After all it is our planet and we have to take care of it for our next generations.
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Information Resource: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/amazon/problems/other_threats/amazon_mining/