Watching 60 Minutes Dirty Gold

It's Scott Pelley, in Kivu area (Eastern Province) of Congo. I lived there for several weeks, on Lake Kivu, in 1984, before going to Cameroon for my Peace Corps teaching job. The Enough Project director is talking about raw material mining and exploitation of civilian miners by warlords.

CBS 60 Minutes shows how mercury is used to consolidate gold dust, and the mercury burned off. This is the number one destination of mercury recovered by the USA's billion dollar a year lamp recycling industry, by the way.

This is the land of soukous music, the best music on the planet. Poly-rhythms on electric guitars. I have lived there, I've been talking about gold mining, the environmental and social costs for a decade. I put a few thousand dollars into a "recycled gold" patent search. It's one of the things that attracted me to the electronics "e-waste" recycling business... not desire for the metal, but disgust at seeing it thrown away. It's like throwing away baby seal pelts.


1 comment:

Rick M said...

As a ten year employee in the jewelry industry, I must say that this issue may be overlooked (at least in my circle of colleagues). With all of the fuss made about “blood diamonds,” which may or may not have died down considerably, as consumers and professionals we really need to examine all of the jewelry-related issues that affect other parts of the world and humanity in general. There is a lot of buzz about green or recycled gold. Hopefully this will raise concern about the source of gold being purchased. It will also be interesting to see how the people that mine platinum and palladium position their metals against this story and issues.