Mining & the Environment
Have you ever thought about the environmental impact of mining? Do you know where your gold comes from? Do you know about land rehabilitation and restoration activities in former artisanal and small-scale mining?
It's okay if you don't!
We want to be that resource for you, and we want you to join us on the journey of learning about the important environmental impact of our industry.
As we all try to live a more mindful life & make more ethical decisions, it's important to know the impacts of those decisions that we do make.
Here at luxe.zen, one of our driving forces is understanding and constantly working towards ethical sourcing - part of which has to do with the environmental impact of our supply chain.
We want to help you understand the impact that materials we use can have on the environment, but we also want you to be empowered to make decisions that align with more compassionate and ethical values.
Armed with the knowledge of the impact things like gold mining have on the environment, we can make better decisions - like working with those who do their best to minimize the impact of mining such a beautiful resource.
It's one of the most destructive industries in the world. It displaces communities, contaminates drinking water, hurts workers, and impacts environments. Artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) for gold is still the largest source of mercury pollution on earth, and producing gold for one wedding ring alone generates 20 tons of waste (which is 40 000 lbs). Gold mining, and gemstone mining, can be really problematic, but it’s so important to recognize that ASM is making efforts to work alongside the local community, continues to develop plans to mine safely and in an eco-friendly way, and is making efforts to remediate the area once the mining is finished. This is all something that large multinational gold companies often fail to do.
So let’s talk about land rehabilitation.
This is one of the ways the industry has been making a change to be less damaging to our earth. Ideally, land rehabilitation and restoration starts with a plan before any digging really begins - it's important to understand what the affected land will be used for next. If it's for agriculture, for example, then there would be an effort to save or conserve the topsoil so that the soil can be used for planting once the mining is done.
Unfortunately, plans for the land are often considered after digging has begun, which limits the possible options and steps that can be taken for rehabilitation.
Development programs often implement fish ponds which provide a source of livelihood and nutritional benefits to the area. Some others have experimented with Phyto mining (using plants to mine the soil by using chemicals in the roots of the plants to soak up gold). The risks in Phyto mining include early harvesting and theft. Specifically in West Africa, organizations are working with land owners after reaching consensus with ASM that the area is mined out, to concentrate on the planting of cash crops that are difficult to remove, like cacao, rather than easily extractable, like rice. Cash crops are more valuable, but this may not be the best decision for the community.
It's important to understand that while steps are being taken to be mindful of the environmental impact that things like gold mining have, there is no widely practiced "perfect solution.” Organizations like Pact, however, do their best to follow best practices. In Ethiopia, Pact works with authorities and communities to mobilize restoration activities in former ASM sites.
Even large multinational mining operations can leave sites without remediation, which poses a huge problem for the local community. This is one of the reasons that working with ASM is a more mindful choice, and that is what we here at luxe.zen always aim to do. The impact that one person or even a small group of people can have on the earth is incredible - and supporting organizations that do things mindfully is one of the best ways we can help and do our part.
We owe a huge thank you to Katherine Hallaran (Manager, Private Sector Business Development) and Cristina Villegas (Director, Mines to Market) from Pact for providing all the important information on land rehabilitation. Pact is an international development nonprofit that works on the ground in nearly 40 countries to end poverty and marginalization. They partner with local organizations, businesses and governments to build lasting solutions for thriving, resilient communities. Their vision is a world where everyone owns their future. Part of this vision includes best practices in the mining industry
We are so happy to work with them in any way we can.
If you have any questions, want more information on this topic, or want us to cover anything else, just get in touch! We want this to be a space FOR YOU.
**Image provided by MOYO GEMS**