Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ethics, the Ecology and Gold

As the world economy tanks, more and more people are trying to buy gold. On the face of it, this may seem like a wise move. Gold has a long history and it holds a powerful place in our imaginations. Many governments and some individuals hold on to gold as a reserve asset. (1) But what are the ethics and ecological implications of mining for and owning gold? Carol P. Christ addresses this in her article for Alive Mind titled Thinking Again About Gold Jewelry. An excerpt is below.

Something to think about....

Update 10/12 Austria Witnesses New Gold Rush
Like any other investment, much depends on whether or not you paid top dollar, only to watch the value drop later. Gold could be the next housing market. If you still have money to invest, do your homework and be careful.


Golden Age Neck Ring which some believe might have been worn by Queen Boudica, Strip Mining in Turkey, Mask of King Tut, Golden Calf with Sun Disc

Thanks: To Belle for bringing this article to my attention.

Excerpt: Thinking Again About Gold Jewelry

I admit it. I love my gold jewelry. I don’t have a lot of it, but most of what I have I wear every day. Rings on my fingers, a snake bracelet on my arm, a gold watch and a diamond ring inherited from my mother. Thus I was shocked to learn that the methods currently being used to mine gold suggest that we should all think twice before buying “new gold” in the future.

I learned about the cyanide leaching process when I learned that the Canadian-based firm Global has received an initial permit for a gold mine on the Turkish coast which is a mere 4-5 nautical miles from the quiet village of Mithimna, Lesbos where I live. This gold mine threatens the ground water not only in Turkey, but also in Lesbos because much of our water which comes via underground channels from high mountains known to the ancient Greeks as sacred Mount Ida, now called Kaz-dagi.

What is cyanide leaching? Basically it is a form of strip mining in which a whole mountain is pulverized and destroyed in order to chemically remove gold flecks from its rocks using the poison called cyanide...

A Turkish environmental group has sent out an SOS addressed to the world community. In part it reads:

“The Ida Mountains are the home of Gods and Goddesses. The Ida Mountains are sources of oxygen. The Ida Mountains represent life itself. They represent water and bread. Today, the IDA Mountains are under occupation. For a handful of gold, the cannibals, plunderers, barbarians of our day want to destroy them, with their cyanide, their heavy machinery, their dollars, their regulations and their lies. Mother IDA and all her children are in grave danger. Our water and our fertile lands will be poisoned with cyanide and with heavy metals. All living things and human beings who live on the foothills of Mount IDA will lose their health and their source of oxygen. Endemic species will disappear. Cultural heritage will be lost forever.”

They continue: “If you share our view that "The IDA Mountains belong to the human race and that they cannot be destroyed," please urgently communicate this to the government of the Republic of Turkey.

1-PREMIERSHIP: e-mail:;
If you care about the survival of the earth and the protection of ancient Goddess sites, please send an email.

And if, like me, you love gold jewelry, please think twice before buying “new gold.” There are a lot of beautiful pieces in the antique stores.
If we love the earth our Mother and all our relatives in the web of life, this is our sacred obligation. Blessed be.

The Berkeley pit, Butte, Montana filled with poisonous water following copper mining.
Poisonous lakes created at the Fort Knox gold mine, Alaska, USA
A mountain destroyed at the Kelian goldmine, Kalimantan, Indonesia

Additional Links

The Motley Fool

Related Articles:

An Introduction to Gold:

The oldest pieces of gold jewelry were found in the tomb of Queen Zer and that of Queen Pu-abi of Ur in Sumeria. These are the oldest examples found of any kind of jewelry from the third millennium BC. Over time, most of the Egyptian tombs were raided for their riches. The tomb of Tutankhamen, King Tut, was discovered undisturbed by archaeologists. This tomb contained a very large collection of gold and jewelry and included a gold coffin. The details of these items indicated incredible quality, Egyptian craftsmanship and goldworking. The Persian Empire, in what is now Iran, made frequent use of Gold in artwork as part of the religion of Zoroastrianism. Persian goldwork is most famous for its animal art, which was modified after the Arabs conquered the area in the 7th century AD.

In the Americas, the use of Gold was highly advanced long before the arrival of the Spanish. Indian goldsmiths had mastered most of the techniques known by Europeans. They were experts at filigree, granulation, pressing and hammering, inlay and lost-wax methods. The Spanish conquerors melted down most of the gold that they took from the peoples of this region and most of the remaining examples have come from modern excavations of grave sites...
When Rome began to flourish, the city attracted talented artisans who created gold jewelry. The use of gold in Rome later expanded into household items and furniture in the homes of the higher classes. By the third century AD, the citizens of Rome wore necklaces that contained coins with the image of the emperor. As Christianity spread through the European continent, Europeans ceased burying their dead with their jewelry. As a result, few gold items survive from the Middle Ages, except those of royalty and from church hordes.

- From An Introduction To Gold


(1) Rafal Swiecki, geological engineer, writes in Gold

"Accursed thirst for gold!

What have you not compelled mortals to do?"

-- Virgil

Golden Rule, and the Gold Standard, to name only a few metaphors. Also, we have such commonplace sayings as heart of gold, good as gold, and so on. Perhaps the two best-known proverbs involving gold are "All that glistens is not gold" and "Gold is where you find it."

The Egyptians used the perfect of planar geometric figures, the circle, as the symbol for gold, the most perfect and noblest of the metals. The alchemists associated gold with the sun (Sol) or with the Greek sun-god (Apollo) and represented it by the symbol of perfection, the circle with a dot at the centre, or by the circle with a crown of rays to represent the king or Apollo of metals.

To the early Hindu philosophers gold was the "mineral light"; to the early Western philosophers the metal was the image of solar light and hence of the divine intelligence of the universe.

The desire for gold has markedly influenced history: the cry "gold" has lured men across oceans and continents, over the highest mountain ranges, into Arctic tundras and scorching deserts, and through nearly impenetrable jungles. Its gleam prompted the expeditions and conquests of Jason of Thessaly, Cyrus and Darius of Persia, Alexander of Macedon, Caesar of Rome, Columbus of Genoa, Vasco da Gama and Amerigo Vespucci of Portugal, Cortez and Pizzarro of Spain, Raleigh of England, and many others throughout history. Gold has carried the torch of civilization to the remotest regions of the world; unfortunately the auri sacra fames* has also wrought terrible acts of slavery, war, and bitter contention upon mankind. So it is also with most other materials of this earth.

To make gold from baser metals was a major preoccupation of the alchemists (as were also their ceaseless efforts to discover the elixir of life and the fountain of youth). The fruits of their labours gave us the rudiments of modern chemistry.

Gold has a widespread occurrence in practically every country of the world and has influenced the exploration and settlement of most. In Africa, Europe, and Asia ancient gold mines are known in Egypt, Spain, France, Great Britain, Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, China, Japan, and the U.S.S.R. Ancient placers have yielded gold from the rivers Tagus, Guadalquivir, Tiber, Po, Rhone, Rhine, Hebrus (Maritsa), Nile, Zambezi, Niger, Senegal, Pactolus (in ancient Lydia), Oxus (Amu Darya that flows through the golden land of Samarkand), Indus, Ganges, Lena, Aldan, Amur, Yangtze, and a multitude of others. The artisans of the earliest civilizations of Anatolia (Catal Hijyilk), Mesopotamia (Sumer), and the Indus Valley (Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro) worked in gold obtained from many sites in the Caucasus and Middle Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian Peninsula. The Egyptians mined gold extensively in eastern Egypt and Sudan (Nubia) as far back as 4,000 years ago. It was from them that the Persians, Greeks, and Romans in turn learned the techniques of gold prospecting, mining, and metallurgy. The Greeks and Romans mined gold ores from the extensive metalliferous regions of their empires. Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79) in his Historia naturalist written in the early years of our era, repeatedly mentions the mining and metallurgy of gold, and during the Renaissance Agricola referred to it, as had many others before him during the Middle Ages.


Anderburf said...

I discovered that one of my favorite sites, All Wired Up uses recycled materials when making their hand crafted pieces made from gold-filled wire.

Celtic Crystal said...

For alchemist, the gold they were trying to create was a metaphor for the refined spirit....
aside from that though, gold does not have the value it used to have. With our large East Indian population, the purchase of gold as investment for the future was quite common. Recent years however have taken a different turn, and the gold is no longer as valuable as they though. Jewellers are not paying for gold jewelry anymore, and the piece that was bought for $1000, can only be sold back to the jewler for less than half the price. It is no longer a wise investment, as even the jewellers acknoledge the heavy amounts of useless metals blended with the gold.

I think it is awfull that the world bodies will allow cyanide mining....the idea....poinoning the whole ecology of an area... I hope this was stopped!