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Scrap Gold Blog

Recycling Your Gold - The Enviromental Truth!

Published Monday 20th April 2009

As the gold price climbs and the current economic climate continues a new arm of the jewellery and precious metals industry is steadily growing - Scrap Gold.

There is another driver in the scrap gold market - the environmental impact caused by the process of locating and extracting the raw gold alloy from the earth.

In 2005 the US geological survey estimated there is around 142 million ounces of gold resources remaining on the planet, with an average annual global mining effort of approximately 2,500 kilograms of gold.

The USA operates the largest gold mining operation, closely followed by South Africa and Australia.

Since the early days of gold mining and gold production (the process of extracting the gold alloy from the ore), harsh chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide have been used to ease the extraction of the raw gold material from the surrounding rock. Gold mining is now more chemistry than the Hollywood picture of the 'old west' gold rush portraying miners in small scale operations mining gold seams by hand.

As the demand for gold increases and the accessibility of gold and availability becomes scarcer, more advanced, scientific and chemical processes are being employed to extract the gold from the earth in ever more economic and cost effective methods. It is now estimated that modern gold mining achieves between 8 and 12 grams of gold per ton of material excavated!

Gold is now more commonly mined in vast open pits, excavating the ore using explosives and mechanical machinery feeding technologically advanced mining plants.

Environmental problems faced by gold mining include the disposal of the waste materials produced in the mining process. There are now many regulations in place to ensure that mining corporations restore the areas they mine back to their original state once mining is complete. The concern to many is who and how are these large multinational corporations - often operating in remote areas of the world - are policed.

But the largest, most alarming environmental concern is caused by the use of hydrogen cyanide to dissolve the gold alloy from the ore. Cyanide is just one of the many chemicals used and produced by the gold mining process which can potential be exposed to the surround soil and ground water causing a far reaching environment disaster.

There have been several recorded incidents; including a catastrophic event in 200 at the Baia Mare mine in Romania where thousands of cubic meters of cyanide laced waste materials were released into the local river during a winter storm. The effects were almost absolute destruction to the surrounding fish stocks, killing almost all fish in the local river. Over 2 million people had their water supplies cut to prevent human ingestion.

Further information about the history of gold mining, the modern techniques and environmental issues associated with the mining and production process, can be found on Wikipedia.

So what can I do? If you have Scrap Gold to sell, get in touch, calculate the value of your gold (or silver and platinum) and recycle your old jewellery, coins etc for cash! And if you're buying something gold - why not look for a recycled gold product.

If you have carat marked gold such as jewellery, coins or watches any would like to turn your old gold into cash, use our scrap gold calculator to get an estimated value for your gold and sell your gold.

... And don't forget, we also buy Scrap Silver and Scrap Platinum!

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