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Friday, October 7, 2011
If given the go-ahead, the companies expect to dig a crater spanning two miles (3.2 miles) wide and thousands of feet deep. According to the Alaska Law Review, three large dams would be required to permanently contain 10 billion tons of hazardous mining waste, known as tailings. Some locals claim tailings dams have a poor safety record, and point out that failures have created water-pollution problems in communities around the world in the past decade.
The researchers predict that Peru could increase mercury imports to around 500 tons a year by the end of 2011, from around 280 tons in 2010. Nearly all mercury imported to Peru is for artisanal gold mining.
Mercury is a highly toxic metal that most people on this continent no longer even want in their dental fillings let alone on fingers or in their lungs. But that is often where it ends up in small-scale mining communities. The ancient method—used as a fast and cheap way to extract gold—was extensively used in the Canadian gold rushes.