Active Now

Discussion » Questions » Environment » Is it true that the production of an average gold ring creates some 15-20 tons of waste? Do you find that surprising?

Is it true that the production of an average gold ring creates some 15-20 tons of waste? Do you find that surprising?

I don't own any jewelry, but I look at all these celebrities telling us about the climate while wearing 5 lbs of gold -- people my generation especially like to weigh their hands down too -- and I wonder: how can anyone ever compensate for 20 tons of tailings? We're talking cyanide, arsenic, and all that fun stuff.

I've found these numbers in different places, starting with a documentary, but here's one:

Posted - November 8, 2023


  • 10052
    I had never heard this before now. It's pretty disturbing.  One more thing for me to feel guilty about.
      November 8, 2023 8:33 PM MST

  • 1421
    I like to talk about these topics, but guilt is never something I want to bring about, or expect to have positive effects. (I do get the humour in your response.) It's just interesting how little we'll hear about mining or construction, for instance, when: 

    "Construction creates an estimated third of the world's overall waste, and at least 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Compare that to the 2-3% caused by aviation, which people fret far more about." (BBC) 

    So, if you're flying, you can certainly feel less guilty about that! This post was edited by Danilo_G at November 10, 2023 11:14 AM MST
      November 9, 2023 2:24 PM MST

  • 13261
    More hard to believe than surprising.
      November 9, 2023 12:09 AM MST

  • 1421
    It appears to be mostly a question of how to separate the gold (or silver) from the ore. When I was in college, we had a family of Bolivian farmers come talk to us about the cyanide commonly used in this process - how it poisoned their water and, therefore, their livestock. 

    I'm sure there are some ways to recycle this waste, but there's a lot of it. Hard to believe, sure, and difficult to picture, yet it doesn't seem untrue. Factor in the question of how (shadow) companies operate mines on other continents, and you can see why we talk so little about it.
      November 9, 2023 3:59 PM MST

  • 2898
    I've never heard this, but it doesn't surprise me.  A few years ago, I sold all the gold jewelry I no longer wore and have only a couple of very fine bracelets and three or four pair of earrings.  
      November 9, 2023 6:54 AM MST

  • 1421
    It's nice to have a clear-out, isn't it? I've been wanting to do so with my wardrobe. Trying on a few clothes at a time until they dangerously restrict blood flow, then throwing them in the laundry. I hope they'll be making some small children happy soon.
      November 9, 2023 4:03 PM MST

  • 2898
    That is a project that I also have to begin.  I've accepted the fact that I will never be a size 12 again and have many items of clothing that have many years of use left.  The task seems so monumental that every time I think about starting, I do something else!
      November 10, 2023 7:17 AM MST