IS WATER IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD?
By: Samantha Cole of Tanzania Business Ethics
What is the danger for our Women, Men, Children, Cattle, Wildlife, Fish, Forests … in short, everything from God and Mother Nature ?
Last week, a Canadian reporter exposed Barrick Gold spilling cyanide into FIVE rivers in Argentina! Five rivers???!!! What next will they do ??
As a result, a new worldwide online petition has begun which we fully support and ask every reader to sign. See below for the link to the petition.
Let us take a look at the terrible and vicious cyanide disasters…..
MINING (LEACHING) GOLD WITH CYANIDE
For over 120 years, miners have used cyanide to recover gold from gold ores. Cyanide is used to dissolve and separate gold from ore. Today, sadly, most of the world’s gold is recovered with cyanide playing a large part in the mining production.
The process used to extract gold using cyanide was developed in Scotland in 1887 and was first used in large scale mining in New Zealand in 1889.
In short and not to go deeper into chemical compounds and equations, it’s enough to say that different or “extra” elements in the mineral compounds will often play havoc with a chemical reaction. Miners know that much thought and design goes into the making of a heap leach, to derive the best, most economical solution for recovering the gold from the ore.
The bottom line is that severe, dangerous, cruel, ruthless and brutal poison is left behind, long after the gold is taken far away from the mine and sold! Cyanide is the general term for the chemicals that are “left behind” as explained above.
Cyanide is toxic in large doses (for example in a gold mine) and is strictly regulated in most jurisdictions worldwide to protect people, animals, water, vegetation, forests and the general environment.
What is the danger of cyanide?
Cyanide prevents the body from taking in oxygen, resulting in suffocation ! Fish are 1,000 times more sensitive to cyanide than humans. In view of the greatest environmental threat from cyanide to water life, the monitoring and management of water on mine sites is definitely of ultimate importance. Government regulations should generally limit the amount of cyanide allowed to be discharged into the environment.
There are a number of water treatment technologies available to remove cyanide from mine water – the question is if mine owners will pay the cost!
Mine disasters from cyanide accidents:
There is no shortage of mine disasters from cyanide accidents and spills. Starting in 1971 in Romania, with about 90 deaths on the day and who knows how many after.
Summitville mine in Colorado, USA.
In 1991, the owners were served with a court order to stop mining operations due to damage to the environment around the mine. Reports say about 320 cubic meters of contaminated water had leaked into the surrounding environment.
In 1992, the owners declared bankruptcy. The site clean-up was undertaken by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The owners had used cyanide in their mining process to extract gold. This resulted in about 610,000 cubic meters of stored toxic water.
Following the company’s bankruptcy, the US government spent over US$155 million to clean the site.
That translates to a cost of about US$ 255 per cubic meter to clean the site.
Other countries suffered tragedies and devastation, some more and some less, are: Papua New Guinea, United States, Guyana, Philippines, China, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Romania, Ghana, Australia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Canada, Tanzania, Argentina…. and more…. When will the world learn?
Tanzania is no stranger to the dangers of cyanide spills and accidents – especially from Barrick Gold – Acacia Mining:
In 2006, the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team of Tanzania wrote this in a report:
“ Another strategy has been to release waste water from Barrick’s tailings dam onto villagers’ lands. This is happening at Matongo Village to the west of the mine where hundreds of hectares of farmlands have been inundated with the cyanide-laced sludge from the tailings dam. We also know inside sources that the company has been releasing this cyanide-laced water onto the Thigithe River which empties onto the larger River Mara just to the south of the Mine.”
In 2009, we had tragedy and loss of life and brutal damage to our environment around Barrick’s North Mara mine. The death toll was close to 20 and maybe more after, that we do not know about. The environment was seriously contaminated. The arsenic poison content in the most contaminated water sample were one to two times HIGHER than the WHO (World Health Organization) drinking water guidelines. The most extreme water sample contained almost half a lethal dose of arsenic for a human being! Our Thigithe River was terribly contaminated.
There are many serious health effects resulting from exposure to arsenic. A variety of cancers, birth defects and numerous skin problems are among the effects.
In a statement signed by Barrick’s public relations officer, Mr Teweli Kyara Teweli, said the claims (that Barrick was responsible) were blatant lies.
In view of Barricks’ insistence that reported deaths and illnesses were not related to the mine’s operations, an investigation was done to compare the quality of water between 2009 and 2002. Not surprising at all, the findings showed that levels of trace metals and cyanide were higher than permissible by the World Health Organization standards. Also, water samples taken from the river found nickel, lead and chromium levels had increased by 260, 168 and 14 times respectively since the year 2002.
In 2011, almost wo years later, Barrick said that the Thigithe River incident was no longer an issue of concern. However, villagers living in Tarime district, in North Mara, had totally the opposite to report. Village Chairperson, Abel Kereman Nyakiha, reported more than 40 people had died in the area since the spillage in 2009. The crisis continues with Barrick always denying.
In 2013, Barrick was ordered to close a pit refuse facility at North Mara due to toxic leakages that are contaminating local water sources. During an investigation in 2012, National Environment Management Council (NEMC) officials found that lethal waste water from Barrick’s tailings storage unit was slowly seeping into the ground.
There is no end to these problems – all over the world Barrick is causing disasters to the environment around their mines. From Australia – Lake Cowal next to Barrick’s mine across the world, through Africa to Argentina, Chile, Dominican Republic and north to USA and Canada….. Criminal damages and disasters to the environment wherever Barrick operates.
Sisters and Brothers of Tanzania – speak out…. Send emails to our IKULU…. Our Leaders want to hear from the Nation. This is OUR NEW Tanzania !!
Our President : firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Chief Secretary : email@example.com
This new worldwide online petition has begun which we fully support and ask every reader to sign. See click below and sign the petition.
IS WATER IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD?