The romantic notion of gold prospecting has little in common with today’s mining operations. Find out about the environmental cost of our lust for gold – and what we can do to stop the insanity.

Few commodities provoke as much controversy as gold. The gleaming precious metal has always been a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The weakness of the dollar and the global financial crisis sent the price of gold soaring: In early 2008, the price for an ounce exceeded $1,000 for the first time. But gold mining is a dirty business that causes severe harm to the environment. Modern gold mining violates human rights and leaves devastated landscapes, lasting environmental damage and social problems in its wake.

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Cyanide: Cyanide is a highly toxic chemical used to dissolve gold from rock. When exposed to air, rock treated with cyanide forms acids that eat their way through the subsoil over time, ultimately polluting the groundwater.

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People protesting against mining with banners and posters The community of Buenos Aires opposes mining (© Bonaerenses Unidos Protectores del Ecosistema - BUPROE)

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Ecuador: Stop the violence by the mining industry!

The community of Buenos Aires in northern Ecuador is peacefully resisting an Australian company that wants to mine gold and copper in their mountains. Local people are asking the authorities to guarantee their human rights and respect their opposition to mining.

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To: the Ministry of Environment; Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources; Mayor of the Municipality of Urcuquí, Tirone Vega Gaybor; the Government of the Province of Imbabura, Governor M.ª Gabriela Jaramillo Puente; Municipal Council; National Police

“Human and natural rights in Ecuador must be guaranteed. The people must be consulted and their opposition to mining must be respected.”

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