Communities affected by mining deserve meaningful changes that improve real conditions on the ground.
February 11, 2011
Thinking of giving your sweetheart gold jewelry for Valentine’s Day? You might want to first know what goes into making it. Extracting enough gold for one ring takes an average of two pounds of cyanide (a teaspoon will kill you). Processing the gold in one ring uses over 1,400 gallons of water, enough to meet the daily needs of 100 people. Left behind is a toxic sludge containing heavy metals, cyanide compounds, and arsenic. Each gold ring produces an average of 20 tons of waste – millions of tons over the life of a mine.
Producing gold can also come at great human cost. Mines are often imposed on communities that don’t want them, and cause communities to lose their lands and livelihoods. Human costs also include the use of child labor in mines in Mali, dangerous conditions in mines in Ghana, and armed violence and human rights violations that have been linked to gold mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Seven years ago, the No Dirty Gold campaign called on jewelers to stop using gold produced in irresponsible ways. The campaign focused on jewelry because it is the primary end use of gold, accounting for some 80 percent of the annual mine production. More than 100,000 people have since signed the No Dirty Gold pledge to demand that companies not sell gold produced at the expense of communities, workers, and the environment. Over 70 jewelers have signed on to the Golden Rules for responsible sourcing of gold and precious metals. By signing they have sent a clear message to their suppliers about their desire for more responsibly produced metals. They have committed to seeking out responsible sources and independent verification of sourcing claims, and to increasing their use of recycled gold.