Whether you want to gain more financial status or make your valuables more sellable, you’d likely consider gold an option. This metal has long captured people’s attention because of its priceless value. Besides being valuable in creating coins and jewelry, experts favor gold because it has practical applications in medicine, dentistry, and electronics.
Because of the recent increase in demand, metal prices have significantly risen. This trend eventually urged mining companies to intensify their gold exploration efforts. This process involves searching for gold deposits in the Earth’s crust.
However, mining companies must understand how it works to succeed. This article will explain gold exploration, how it works, and what methods mining companies must avoid. We’ll also discuss the future of gold mining and how experts handle it.
A History of Gold Mining
Since the birth of civilization, humans have been using mining methods to extract minerals from the earth. In the early days, gold mining was a labor-intensive process that needed primary tools and had little to no payoff.
In contrast, people popularized placer mining during the California and Colorado Gold Rushes, which involved panning, sluice-boxing, hydraulic mining, and dredging. These methods employed gravity and water to separate the heavier gold from other sediments.
Where Does Gold Production Usually Originate?
Gold production usually comes from commercial hardrock mining operations, which involve extracting gold from the rock through underground or open-pit mining methods. Underground mining means drilling or blasting a tunnel to reach the source of the ore.
On the other hand, open-pit mining involves removing the rock and minerals from an open pit. Companies typically use open-pit mining when they find valuable minerals near the surface, accounting for almost two-thirds of all newly-mined gold.
How Gold Mining and Extraction Evolved
Experts have since developed new machines and equipment to conduct gold explorations more accurately and with less environmental harm. These advancements include trucks, drills, explosives, processing plants, and automated robots.
What Are Dangerous Methods Mining Companies Use?
Because of the depletion of the earth’s most productive gold mines, miners resort to hazardous chemicals to extract, separate, and refine gold, causing significant harm to the environment and their health. These companies also use two unsafe extraction techniques, namely Heap Leaching and Amalgamation.
What Are the Effects of These Techniques?
From there, the gold industry adopted new standards for handling cyanide because of the disastrous chemical spills. From exploration and construction to operation and closure, mining activities significantly impacted the environment throughout their life cycle. These factors also shaped a negative mining perception and could dramatically impact the future of gold exploration.
Gold Mining: The Future and How Experts Are Handling It
After explaining gold exploration and mining, this section will discuss the industry’s future and three ways the professionals are trying to improve these processes.
1. Adopting Greener Technologies and Practices
Mining companies like Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold are implementing sustainable practices like renewing energy sourcing, energy efficiency projects, and methane capturing. They’re also using water reclamation to reduce waste and inefficiencies.
2. Launching Initiatives
The Canadian government agency National Resources Canada (NRCan) launched the Green Mining Initiative in 2009 to minimize the environmental impact of mining. Professionals are exploring greener extraction processes and waste management to avoid ecological damage. They’re also working towards “zero-discharge” methods by re-mining waste materials.
3. Using Inexpensive and Environmentally-Friendly Chemicals
Scientists at Northwestern University have discovered an eco-friendly way to extract gold using cornstarch instead of the toxic cyanide process that many gold-mining companies use.
While the gold exploration industry has helped many sectors practically, remember that it can significantly damage the earth and the workers’ health. We can make gold mining more sustainable by educating ourselves about the practices to avoid and advocating for safer techniques.
You can learn more about gold exploration by visiting Janet Sheriff’s blog! She’s an innovative entrepreneur that brings her expertise in strategic planning, management, indigenous affairs, and communications to the mining and exploration sectors. Check out our articles, videos, and podcasts now!