When one thinks of gold mining or any industry that uses a lot of electricity 24/7, you can’t associate companies in such an industry as being particularly concerned about the environment. Had governments not stepped in to compel mining companies to rehabilitate the lands they were mining we would have giant gaping holes and far more ghost mining towns than we have right now. The gold mining industry was arguably the first mining industry that answered the call for environmental consciousness.
Most mines are the bedrock of the towns in which they are based and as such, much of the economic activity in mining towns is centered around the mine that’s operating in the area. It is always in the mine’s best interest to ensure that the town’s economy is high. They can do that by supporting local businesses such as gold buyers or they can support initiatives that meet the needs for both the people and the industry.
The gold industry employs a lot of people or creates jobs directly or indirectly. There’s an entire recycling industry that has spawned a lot of small businesses from local gold buyers, to independent refineries, and more.
Many people believe that recycling gold by selling used gold can help reduce the mining industry’s impact on the environment. However, it does very little impact. Gold recycling hit record levels back in 2009 mainly as a result of people selling their gold to weather the Global Financial crisis. However, this recycled gold accounted for 1% of the above-ground gold stock. Much of this gold might never be reclaimed because of the following reasons:
- For most people, jewellery has powerful sentimental value which makes it hard for most people to part with.
- Gold has religious and cultural significance for some people. In certain cultures like Indian and Chinese culture gold is an essential part of worship. You can find it in temples and other places of worship.
- Some cultures also view gold as an intergenerational investment to be handed down in families and not sold.
A lot of people don’t even know that gold is used in technological devices like smart phones and laptops. Most of the gold in electronics is discarded and ends up in landfills.
Despite this, gold is still being recycled by people selling gold jewellery they no longer use, or gold that is broken for cash to gold buyers. This recyclable gold accounted for a third of the total gold supplied from 1995 onwards to the 2000s. However, recycling isn’t the only way that the industry is attempting to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. The MCGowan Clean Energy Fund has awarded grants to Norton Gold Fields, Evolution Mining and Saracen Mineral Holdings to have modular solar panels installed in some of their mines to reduce their electricity consumption, reduce carbon emissions and create employment for the local people in the areas where these mines are based. The Solar panel project is worth $2.6 million and it will help generate 77,000-megawatts of electricity, save over 53000 tons of carbon and create some 400 jobs. This is part of the fund’s ability to achieve greenhouse gasses emitted by 2050. This will go a long way to supporting the country’s economic recovery post COVID-19.
Projects like this show how the gold industry can have an impact on society and help make the world a little bit better.