Drainscaping Nevada’s Gold

A series of articles on gold mining continues again at the New York Times, this time focusing on the state of Nevada’s groundwater.
“Nearly 10 million gallons a day draining away in the driest state in the nation… is just one of the many strange byproducts of Nevada’s tangled love affair with gold.”

[Images: Barrick‘s Goldstrike Mine, Nevada; all photos by Ashley Gilbertson/New York Times].

“Large-scale open-pit mining takes a lot of water, millions of gallons, mostly to dilute the cyanide that miners use to soak their ore and separate its microscopic bits of gold.” This, in tandem with mass pumping and the use of settling ponds, “could change both the quantity and quality of the groundwater, and even the shape of the aquifer.”

Nevada, however, seems to have escaped the attention of the environmental movement: “‘Nevada is mostly not prized by environmentalists,’ said John D. Leshy, who was the top lawyer for the Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration. ‘Nevada is being written off as a sacrifice area for gold.'”

(For more information see the actual article; and for a bit on gold in Indonesia, see BLDGBLOG’s earlier post).

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