Metal Mining Atrocities. (an introduction) and “Right, Twice a Day” necklace
Metal Mining almost always contaminates the ground water in the surrounding area. The process of separating heavy metals from shales and sulfide ores leaves behind deadly chemicals such as cyanide and arsenic. The US has pretty strict guidelines now, I’m assuming after seeing the disastrous effect metal mining had on ground water in Montana.
In 2005 and 2009 massive disasters at a Jilin City, China mine left the river and reservoir water horribly polluted. The mines pollution has also destroyed crop lands for over a hundred years.
Glamis Gold, a Canadian metal mining company in Guatemala has drastically altered the ecosystem in the surrounding area. Residents for hundreds of miles around draw from water sources polluted with high levels of cyanide and heavy metals. The people there have grown used to the reality that their drinking water now has arsenic, lead and other hazardous chemicals in it. Read more about this tragic tale here, at www.earthfirstjournal.org
“Metal mining and smelting company, Doe Run Peru* has contaminated La Oroya, Peru. Over 35,000 of La Oroya residents have been affected by lead, zinc, copper and sulfur dioxide pollution from the company’s metal mining and processing. According to Time, 99 percent of the mining town’s children have blood levels that surpass suitable limits of exposure. Since 1922, the town in Peru’s Andes Mountains has been polluted by mining missions.” -source: www.eturbonews.com
Metal mining is a leading cause of the high levels of mercury we find in our seafood today.
“Trace metal pollution from metal mining, production and processing industries can damage the health of marine plants and animals and render some seafood unfit for human consumption. The contribution of human activities can be very significant: the amount of mercuryintroduced to the environment by industrial activities is around four times the amount released through natural processes such as weathering and erosion.” -greenpeace.org
To find out more about ethical metal mining and where these positive practices are taking place, visit Ethical Metalsmiths.
Not all of what I have made over the last 5 years has been from recycled, ethically sourced materials. Before I really looked into how terrifying the scope of this issue is, I frequented the local metal “findings” shops. Most of them know nothing of the practices of the mines from which they receive their metal products.
I am now making a concerted effort to seek out new options for ethically produced jewelry. Below (“Right, Twice a Day”) is a necklace that I pieced together using entirely found and vintage objects and chains. I thought it would also be a good fit for this post, about recreating jewelry rather than always purchasing new. “Even a broken clock can be right twice a day.” -so don’t toss it out! It even has vintage jump rings and clasps from a supplier in San Francisco that I frequent. He had the good fortune of stumbling into a piece of derelict real estate filled with vintage metal supplies from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. We (recycled jewelry designers) can’t always get our hands on vintage jump rings, wire and clasps that haven’t been damaged and/or compromised. In these cases we must use new products for the structural integrity of the piece. (shout out to Tamara over at Redux for the wording)