Mining has played a vital role in the development of our society for centuries. The mined materials are the foundations of our homes, transportation, technological devices and more. The industry is also economically significant in producing regions, serving as a primary source of income for its residents.
The gold mining industry produces a substantial amount of waste, and presents great risk to the surrounding people and the environment. These residual by-products called tailings are often stored in tailing dams. Gold mine tailing dams are an extremely perilous part of the mining industry, whose processes utilise toxic chemicals such as cyanide, mercury and arsenic.
The grandeur of gold is not enough to mask the ravaged lands, polluted water beds and continued destruction of our health and environment. Gold mining is a centuries old practice, and its impact is monumental. It is difficult to remain blissfully ignorant when the consequences are dire.
Reuters has reported on June 21 that Brazilian miner Vale SA is set to spend US$400 million this year to decommission 12 of its 30 tailings dams. In 4 years since the programme's inception, the company has spent US$857 million of the US$4 billion it has projected to spend by 2035, in its aim to completely shut down operations and eradicate any future disasters.