Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How much does that ring on your finger weigh?

No, this isn't a picture of me standing on a beach on my hols, forgetting to hold in my stomach.

I'm actually standing on a huge toxic waste dump, forgetting to hold in my stomach.

This 'slimes dam' is on the outskirts of Johannesburg is 11km across and 150m high. It is being created to remove lots of little old dams of gold mine tailings from within the city itself which pose a safety hazard to the local populace. The company moving the waste was financing it solely by extracting more gold from the old waste using highly toxic mercury. From every 5 tonnes of waste, they got 1 gram of gold.

So the answer to my question is, if your ring is 24 carot (ie pure gold) and came from this process, its 'ecological rucksack' is a whopping 50 tonnes.

The ecological rucksack of the UK economy is 35 tonnes per person - that's 35 small cars' weight of stuff being shifted around every year just for me, you and every one of us. After 6 months, less than a tonne of that stuff remains a useful product - the rest has been thrown away.

Makes you think doesn't it?

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At 1:44 AM, Blogger daharja said...

Do you have any figures on remade jewelry and 'scrap gold' jewelry?

I wanted to get my grandmothers engagement ring remade into a ring for myself, but have backed down on the idea, after learning that only the diamonds would be re-used, and the gold would be sold off as 'scrap gold' - this is apparently standard practice by most jewellers here in Australia.

I am now looking for a jeweller who will use the same gold that the ring originally contains. Silly me, being sentimental and all, but there you have it.

On the issue of gold, how much of that gold goes into circuitry these days? What is the ecological footprint of all those mobile phones that only have a shelf life of 2-3 years?

Makes one think, doesn't it?

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Gareth Kane said...

I'm afraid I don't have anything on scrap gold but it will be much less than virgin gold. Recycling aluminium takes 11% of the energy of virgin material. Plus there would be no mercury involved. So there is an ecological as well as your (not silly at all) sentimental attachment.

Re mobiles, in the UK many people are upgrading their phone every six months. I changed mine last year when the battery started going (and people were openly laughing at it), but the technology doesn't seem to be evolving as fast as it was back then.


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