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?
- Don't buy gold – or buy less gold – for your investments or for jewelry (show your love in other ways!)
- 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).
- 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.
- Support small scale, fairly traded, artisanal gold mining with mercury-free alternatives (here and here).
- Support those working to reform mining laws and practices at home and internationally (MiningWatch Canada, Earthworks, IRMA, and more here and here).
THE GOLD FACTS
- Gold mining has some of the largest human and environmental impacts of all types of metal mining.
- More than 1 in 4 metal mines in the world (and in Canada) is a gold mine.
- Top gold producing regions include China, Australia, Russia, USA, Canada, Latin America, South Africa.
- In Canada, gold surpassed all other types of metals mined and exported in value over the last 10 years.
- 50-60% of gold mined is for jewellery, 30-40% for banks & investments, 10% for industry and technology.
- China, India, USA & Europe dominate the $350 billion jewelry market.
- Some of the largest jewellery retailers in North America include Signet Jewelers, Tiffany, Walmart, Costco.
- In North America and many parts of the world, mining is the largest source of contaminated solid waste into the environment.
- Industrial-scale gold mining generates over 20 tons of contaminated wastes for each new gold ring made.
- Industrial mining also uses large quantities of sodium cyanide – a substance very toxic to living organisms.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) 2018, North American Pollutant Releases and Transfers, http://cec.org/tools-and-resources/taking-stock/taking-stock-online-north-american-industrial-pollution
- Common Objective 2018, The Size of the Global Jewellery Market, https://www.commonobjective.co/article/the-size-of-the-global-jewellery-market
- Environmental Protection Agency 2013, Mercury Emissions: The Global Context, https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/mercury-emissions-global-context
- IBEF 2019, Gems and Kewellery Industry Analysis, https://www.ibef.org/industry/gems-and-jewellery-presentation
- IBIS World 2019, Jewelry Stores Industry in the US, https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-trends/market-research-reports/retail-trade/clothing-accessories-stores/jewelry-stores.html
Infomine Database 2019, http://www.infomine.com/, consulted on Feb.1st 2019
- Over 36,000 mine sites in the database: 13,000 gold sites and 5,500 gold-copper sites; 6,100 active mine and mine complex sites (over 1,600 for gold), and about 2,300 in production (over 800 for gold). In Canada: over 300 active mine and mine complex sites (144 for gold, and about 55 in production).
- Over 14,000 companies in the database, 3,640 in Canada (including about 3,000 globally for gold, 1200 listed as gold in Canada, 650 in Australia, 200 in the USA, 200 in Europe, 200 in Latin America, 200 in Asia, 150 in Africa, 90 in UK, 50 South Africa.
- Mining.com 2018, Top 10 largest gold companies in 2017, http://www.mining.com/worlds-top-10-largest-gold-mining-companies-2017/
Mining of Association of Canada 2017, Mining Facts and Figures, http://mining.ca/sites/default/files/documents/Facts-and-Figures-2017.pdf.
- Total of about 200 major active mine sites in 2016, including 17 active gold mines in Ontario (excluding polymetallic mines) and 24 total metal and diamond mines; 10 active gold mine sites in Quebec; 5 polymetallic gold mines in B.C.; 3 active gold/polymetallic mines in NFL; 2 polymetallic mines in MB; 2 in SK; 1 polymetallic mine in YK; 1 in NV; 1 polymetallic mine in NB.
- Mining Association of Ontario 2018, Mining Operations Map, https://www.oma.on.ca/en/ontariomining/map.asp
- National Pollutant Release Inventory 2017, Government of Canada, https://pollution-waste.canada.ca/national-release-inventory/archives/index.cfm?lang=En
- NRCAN 2018, Annual statistics for mineral production, http://sead.nrcan.gc.ca/prod-prod/ann-ann-eng.aspx
NRCAN 2018, Gold Facts, https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mining-materials/facts/gold/20514
- Canadian mines produced an estimated 176 tonnes of gold in 2017, an 80% increase since 2008.
- Gold is Canada's most valuable mined mineral, with a production value of $8.7 billion in 2017.
- Ontario and Quebec together accounted for more than 70% of mined gold production in Canada, followed by British Columbia, Nunavut, Manitoba, Yukon, Saskatchewan.
- The Bank of Canada no longer holds gold as part of its international reserves. This is the result of a Government of Canada decision to diversify its portfolio by selling its physical commodities and investing in financial assets that are easily tradable.
- NRCAN 2018, Minerals and the Economy, https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mining-materials/facts/minerals-economy/20529
- Statista 2016, Largest jewelry markets worldwide in 2016, by country (in billion U.S. dollars), https://www.statista.com/statistics/718856/largest-jewelry-markets-by-country/
- Statista 2017, Top Jewelry retailers in the USA in 2017, https://www.statista.com/statistics/591814/sales-of-jewelry-retailers-in-the-us/
- Statista 2019, Luxury Jewelry worldwide, https://www.statista.com/outlook/21020200/100/luxury-jewelry/worldwide
- USGS 2018, Statistics and Information about Gold, https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/gold/
- World Gold Council 2019, https://www.gold.org/
- World Top Exports 2019, Canada's Top 10 Exports, http://www.worldstopexports.com/canadas-top-exports/