The Devastating Effects Of Gold Mining

Gold is one of the most precious metals inthe world, and has run the gamut from its use as currency, to jewelry, and even to electronicplating, and infrared shielding.
But for many people the cost far outweighsits intrinsic value.
Seeker Stories went to South America to learnabout some of the worst exploitation, both human and environmental.
Check it out.
Gold is maybe the most universal shorthandthere is for value, and for greed.
The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with it.
European explorers marauded through SouthAmerica in search of it.
And American cities like San Francisco andSeattle rose to prominence because of it.
It’s a big part of our history as humans.
Looking at all that, our obsession with goldalso seems historical, sort of old timey - but that’s not at all true.
There’s still huge demand for it today - therecession of 2008 helped gold quadruple in value.
And a full half of all the gold mined in theworld has been mined in the past 50 years.
But what is different about gold today ishow we get it.
What happens in gold producing areas is notwhat we imagine where somebodies in a cave, using a chisel and a hammer to get these biggolden nuggets.
That’s Diego, a photojournalist who spentsome time in Cajamarca, Peru near a modern gold mine.
Actually, not just any gold mine.
The largestin all of Latin America.
And modern mining looks very different thanit used to.
most of the gold that we are mining now comesin the forms of little specks of sand, little flakes mixed in with dirt.
a lot of these companies are using open pitmines to grab as much dirt as possible and then they process it with different chemicals Those chemicals are cyanide, arsenic, andmercury.
Basically a laundry list of things you want to keep far away from people.
But the mining process creates a lot of wastewater laced with those pollutants.
And up in the Andes mountains, the water doesn’tstay put.
when you take a mining operation and you putit on top of a mountain, the water as we all know, only follows gravity, it goes down inevery direction, And therein lies the problem.
According to Diego, poisoned water has seepedthroughout the region, causing stomach cancer in people, illnesses in livestock, and decimatedfish populations.
And the people of Cajamarca, who were promisednew wealth from the mining economy, haven’t all seen a benefit.
they see water that is contaminated and economicopportunities that haven't really changed for them.
[0:30] quality of life has remained the samefor many of these people without any of the profits you would assume a gold mine wouldbring to a region And so the people have done the one thingthey’re able to do about the mines: protest.
They’re pushing back against foreign corporateinfluence, ruined natural resources.
And a history that somehow never has seemed tochange for them.
they've been exploited for about 500 yearsnow, ever since the spanish arrived and started taking the Incan’s gold.
the same story happens wherever you have resourceextraction projects.
it's a dirty industry which makes privateprofits and public disasters.
For Diego, it all comes back to the valueof gold.
As expensive as gold is right now, after visitingCahamarca Diego sees it as undervalued.
Dangerously so.
i realized that gold is cheap because we payto it through the lives of people who live in gold producing areas, through the livesof people who live in Cajamarca.
This is video’s part of a short series we’redoing on protest movements around the world.
To get a peek behind the front lines of amovement called black bloc, click now.
If you want to see more in depth content likethis, check out Seeker Stories.
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