Submarine Tailings Disposal
Producing just one gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste. So where does all this waste go?
Much of the waste generated from mining comes during the extraction process, when the desired mineral is chemically separated from ore. Mining companies typically store this chemical laden sludge, known in the industry as tailings, in massive tailings dams or impoundments.
But in some places, mining companies directly dump this mine waste into rivers, lakes and oceans. In fact, mining companies are dumping more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste each year into the world’s waterways, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife.
In response to devastating impacts and tremendous backlash from communities, the mining industry has largely phased out this practice. But communities in several parts of the world, notably in Southeast Asia, continue to live with the impacts of this practice. And incredibly, countries like Norway and Chile are considering turning their fjords and fisheries into mine waste dumping grounds.
We are calling on mining companies and governments to end this destructive practice, and end the dumping of mine waste into oceans, rivers and streams.
For more information:
- Troubled Waters: Case studies of sites of mine waste dumping by the world's major mining companies
- Sign the petition: End Tailings Dumping!
- What are tailings?
- Finding Dory blog post
- Norway: Don’t Pollute Fjords with Mine Waste!
- Earthblog Papua New Guinea Court Demands Cleanup at Mine