DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR GOLD COMES FROM?
Humans’ fascination with gold is as old as recorded history. Almost every established culture has used gold to symbolize power, beautify, purity and accomplishment. From the Ancient Egyptians in 3000 BC to the modern US Treasury, there has been few metals that have had such an influential role.
Gold’s uses are countless. Because of gold’s diversity of properties, it can be utilized as a conductor, can be easily melted and hammered, drawn into wire, and cast into highly detailed shapes. Gold today is embedded into the fabric of our world economy and in products that we use on a daily basis.
Uses for gold
- Financial Markets
- Glass *Dental
- Medical Instruments
How is your gold mined?
In many cases, gold comes from a CLEAN SOURCE with regulations that help decrease the damage to the earth.
However, some of the gold mining practices TODAY has led to a growing THREAT to the world’s environment.
What is Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM)?
Artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM) is a type of gold mining conducted by individual miners or small enterprises with limited capital investment and production. In most cases the miners use MERCURY in the process, and operate in poor conditions, with no controls or regulations. Unfortunately this type of mining can DESTROY the environment leaving in its wake WASTELANDS POISONED with mercury and other toxic chemicals. ASGM can also be ILLEGAL, attracting an onset of criminal activities.
ASGM can be found in over 80 COUNTRIES and can involve as many as 10 million people worldwide. Research suggests that 12-30% of gold production comes from ASGM.
Artisanal and small scale mining is the largest source of human caused MERCURY POLLUTION in the world-even more that the burning of fossil fuels globally. Mercury poisoning can cause serious health issues including brain damage, nerve and organ damage, memory loss and even possibly a shortened life span.
Do you know where your gold comes from?
The difficulty with identifying cleanly sourced gold is that most gold is refined at large plants that do not distinguish between sources. There is not a consistent clean supply chain so most of the gold goes into one melting part where it is then refined and sold to the consumer. This operational process makes it very difficult for gold retailers and consumers to determine where the gold was mined or what practices were used.
Today a few gold consumers and refineries are implementing voluntary policies to improve their gold sourcing operations. Awareness is beginning to spread and groups are organizing to demand a clean supply chain. Jewelers and purchasers are beginning to promote more sustainable and ethical materials to not only protect the environment, but also have a positive impact on the communities and lives of workers. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining provides families with an opportunity to escape poverty. To completely remove or halt the process would be ineffective. What miners need is access to better technology and working conditions. It is possible to mine for gold in a way that isn’t as harmful to our planet and people.
BUT dirty gold mining continues…wreaking havoc on the planet.
What is ASGM doing to the Amazon?
The DESTRUCTIVE practice of ASGM is HAPPENING in the AMAZON causing deforestation, soil erosion, loss of habitat, the extinction of species, organized crime, corruption, child slavery, money laundering, and the poisoning of the land, rivers, the animals and the people’s by the mercury used in the mining process.
See for yourself and witness the deforestation of the Amazon through illicit and unregulated gold mining through Amazon Aid’s documentary “River of Gold”.
Why should you care?
The Amazon is the most critical natural land buffer against climate change, has the highest numbers of plants and animals, carries 20% of the earths fresh water to sea, is home to countless indigenous peoples, and releases approximately 20 billion tons of moisture into the atmosphere every day! Wow the Amazon is IMPORTANT!
What can you do?
Be aware and share
Gold is in many things from your cell phone to the jewelry you wear.
Ask questions and buy cleanly sourced gold.
- Ask your jeweler/or gold supplier where the gold came from.
- Is it fair-trade and fair-mined?
- Is the gold conflict and cruelty free?
- Is your gold recycled? Precious metals can be recycled repeatedly with no degradation in quality, they are a renewable and a natural resource.
- Support calls to action to buy from companies that responsibly source their gold.
- Spread awareness of this issue by sharing your knowledge. Work on creative projects to educate parents, families, and communities about the impact of gold mining in the Amazon and it’s indirect link to consumers in the US who buy gold.
- Support Online efforts to raise awareness about Amazon Aid/NGOs efforts.
- Develop a plan with your school to educate local jewelers/chain stores about supply chains.
- Produce an animated short, short film, song or art project -post it on the Voices portal.
- Write letters to governments who do not properly compensate people who have been affected by pollution from mining companies.
- Support organizations that are working to clean up the supply chain for gold
What are some organizations you can support?
Amazon Aid Foundation
AAF’s documentary film “River of Gold”, education curriculum, social impact campaign and resource guides educate and activate global audiences and build coalitions from grassroots efforts to governmental policy to demand a clean supply chain for sustainably mined gold. Join our voice.
EARTHWORKS and Oxfam America have launched a No Dirty Gold campaign, which asks companies to sign a Golden Rule pledge. “No Dirty Gold” is not calling for a boycott of gold. They are demanding changes in the way that metals are extracted and produced – all too often at the expense of communities, workers, and the environment. They are demanding alternatives to “dirty” – or irresponsibly produced – metals.
Multiple jewelers and gold refinery companies have signed the pledge.
The Responsible Jewelry Council that consists of jewelers trying to do responsible gold sourcing.
Initiates mercury programmes around the world to introduce mercury-reducing technologies to artisanal mining communities in order to lessen the impact on human health and the environment.
Estelle Levin Ltd, gold supply chain including a project called Gold and Illicit Financial Flows Project (The GIFF Project).
PACT supply chain for gold (and other minerals/gems) called Mines to Market
Solidaridad -responsible gold sourcing program
Calculate your carbon footprint
Too much carbon in the air is causing the heating up of the planet.
What is your carbon footprint?