Blog Entry

Behind the Glitter: The Gold Facts

Do you know where the gold in your ring comes from, or Canada’s role in the global market of gold? Here are some Gold Facts and solutions we pulled together to help you make informed decisions about how to reduce the impacts of the gold industry in Canada and the world (also on Facebook here or here)

WHAT YOU CAN DO to reduce the impacts of gold mining in Canada and the world?

  1. Don't buy gold – or buy less gold – for your investments or for jewelry (show your love in other ways!)
  2. See the new documentary film The Shadow of Gold, an international production by award-winning filmmakers that pulls back the curtain on the world’s top precious metal (Toronto Feb. 22 | Ottawa Feb. 27 | Vancouver March 11 | Calgary March 20 | Montreal March 26 | Halifax May 7 | tickets online).
  3. Sign Earthworks’ No Dirty Gold pledge calling on retailers and manufacturers to ensure that the gold in their products was not produced at the expense of local communities, workers and the environment (more here). Ask your jeweler to sign the Golden Rules.
  4. Support small scale, fairly traded, artisanal gold mining with mercury-free alternatives (here and here).
  5. Support those working to reform mining laws and practices at home and internationally (MiningWatch CanadaEarthworksIRMA, and more here and here).


  1. Gold mining has some of the largest human and environmental impacts of all types of metal mining.
  2. More than 1 in 4 metal mines in the world (and in Canada) is a gold mine.
  3. Top gold producing regions include China, Australia, Russia, USA, Canada, Latin America, South Africa.
  4. In Canada, gold surpassed all other types of metals mined and exported in value over the last 10 years.
  5. 50-60% of gold mined is for jewellery, 30-40% for banks & investments, 10% for industry and technology.
  6. China, India, USA & Europe dominate the $350 billion jewelry market.
  7. Some of the largest jewellery retailers in North America include Signet Jewelers, Tiffany, Walmart, Costco.
  8. In North America and many parts of the world, mining is the largest source of contaminated solid waste into the environment.
  9. Industrial-scale gold mining generates over 20 tons of contaminated wastes for each new gold ring made.
  10. Industrial mining also uses large quantities of sodium cyanide – a substance very toxic to living organisms.
  11. Artisanal small-scale gold mining is still the largest source of mercury pollution on earth, ahead of coal burning (!!!) – but there are mercury free alternatives.
  12. As more accessible and higher-grade gold deposits are mined out, gold mining is expanding into more socially and ecologically sensitive areas, affecting local communities and Indigenous peoples’ livelihoods.
  13. About 40% of gold mining corporations are headquartered in Canada, 20% in Australia, 15% in the USA and Europe, and operate across the planet (eg: 45% of companies in Latin America are Canadian).
  14. Increased mechanisation and automation mean that gold mining represents only about 15,000 direct jobs in Canada, but millions globally – mostly artisanal and small-scale miners.
  15. While the mining sector accounts for about 20% of all Canadian exports, it represents only 3% of Canada’s GDP – and gold mining a fraction of this.