Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ask Hard Questions Before Buying Gold

What is the real price of gold? In an age when we are becoming aware of global warming and global destruction of natural resources, we need to be aware that gold mining is one of the dirtiest industries in the world.

The production of a single gold wedding ring generates 20 tons of mine waste. Gold mining bears the scars of conflict, destruction and human rights abuse. In places as diverse as Guatemala, Ghana, Peru and Indonesia, local communities and indigenous peoples have encountered intimidation, abuse and even violent suppression when voicing opposition to mining projects.

Gold mining is a dirty industry. It can displace communities, contaminate drinking water, hurt workers and destroy pristine environments.

Open-pit gold mines essentially obliterate the landscape, opening vast craters, flattening or even inverting mountaintops. Cyanide is used by large mining operations to separate gold from ore and pollutes the landscape. A rice-grain of cyanide can be fatal to humans.

Metal mining employs just 0.09 of the work force, but consumes as much as 10 percent of world energy. Metal mining is the No. 1 toxic polluter in the United States, responsible for 89 percent of arsenic releases, 85 percent of mercury releases and 84 percent of lead releases in 2004.

Most gold is used to make jewelry. Jewelers should ensure they are not selling gold produced at the expense of people's lives and our environment. Consumer demand will help lead to an alternative to dirty gold. Ask jewelers when you buy gold if they have taken the first steps toward more responsible sourcing of gold by declaring their support for the Golden Rules, which represent social, environmental and human rights criteria for more responsible gold production. We, as consumers, should support these retailers.

Here is the full article.