Gold mining involves digging up tons of rock from the ground, using chemicals like cyanide, and then tossing all the rock somewhere. I took a scenic drive along CA-hwy 49 over the weekend, and saw some mining equipment. I also read about a mine that still has gold, but it's too expensive (and probably would raise lots of environmental concerns).

Someday I'd like all gold mines to use gold mining bacteria. They pull the gold out of the ore while leaving the ore in place. Let's dump tons of these bacteria down into the gold mines, let them do their work, and then pull up all the gold. Whee!

Update: [2006-07-14] Researchers have found gold-harvesting bacteria.

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7 comments:

Steve Jenson wrote at Monday, June 5, 2006 at 11:41:00 PM PDT

What about a potential loss in structural integrity? This might cause sinkholes in the sides of mountains.

Not that I'm advocating current methods, I'm just sayin'.

Alok Online wrote at Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:32:00 AM PDT

I have a better idea. How about creating germs which can harvest gold from the ocean instead?

Advantages:
1. There is lots more Gold in the Ocean.

2. Gold is spread about evenly, so it is almost replenishable when extraced from Ocean.

3. Mining from Ocean can be cheaper and easier than digging for Gold! Even if they are in the form of concentrated nuggets.

4. No need for expensive surveys to find the Gold rich mine locations.

5. Ocean life is much more populous than land life, let alone sub-terrainian life. The idea is that germs can be engineered and grown easily for ocean.

6. No territorial industrial tax to be paid for mining in International waters.

7. Hey maybe no income tax as well. Or atleast you can choose the country with the least income tax for Ocean gold mining.

Thinking about and writing these points out was fun!

Amit wrote at Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:22:00 PM PDT

OOh, the ocean -- great idea! I wonder how much gold during the San Francisco Gold Rush flowed out into the ocean instead of being caught in the panning dishes.

Alok Online wrote at Monday, July 24, 2006 at 9:01:00 AM PDT

>I wonder how much gold during the San Francisco Gold Rush flowed out into the ocean instead of being caught in the panning dishes.

Gold has been flowing into Ocean for ages, let alone the few moments when the miners were panning for nuggets. However the estimates for the amount of Gold in ocean vary wildly, but wikipedia says it is 1-2 ppb.

Anonymous wrote at Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 1:27:00 PM PDT

Just a note from someone who has been mining for 20+ years. Not all mining tears rocks out of the ground, leached with cyanide and letting the rocks go everywhere.

That's load mining (gold in the host rock), and the leaching process is usually at a minimum if the host rock is fairly rich. If its not, then leaching (of different types is used, and recovered to be used again)

In placer mining, (the kind we are involved in), the only "chemical" that we use is a large supply of "jet dry" (the stuff you use to stop the spots on your dishes). And even that is used over and over again.

For both, settling ponds are set up, in a series, to catch any outflow, then it goes into the next pond, and depending how large the operation is, there could be several more. The last pond is usually pumped back up to the original operation, and all operations have a "last chance" pond or 2, for capturing anything that may have gone astray. If they don't, they are breaking the law, and it is the job of the authorities to make sure those things happen, by inspections and testing.

Also, even for a smaller operations, like ours, a multi-million dollar reclamation bond is required. This money is used to return the land to its original condition after the mining operation has completed. It is also the law, and it is up to the mine owners/operators to make this happen, and the job of the authorities to follow-up on, to make sure they do what they are supposed to do. There are thousands of mines that the average public never knew existed, because of the reclamation.
They only see the ones that are either currently operating, or have been abandoned by unscrupulous operators.

The idea of some kind of bacteria for gold harvesting is not a new one. It is how the bacteria that eats oil (especially useful for oil spills) was discovered.

Anonymous wrote at Saturday, April 7, 2007 at 10:09:00 AM PDT

you should check out haber science . Haber has a new way of mining gold without use of harmful chemicals

Alok Online wrote at Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 10:49:00 PM PDT

>I wonder how much gold during the San Francisco Gold Rush flowed out into the ocean instead of being caught in the panning dishes.

Gold has been flowing into Ocean for ages, let alone the few moments when the miners were panning for nuggets. However the estimates for the amount of Gold in ocean vary wildly, but wikipedia says it is 1-2 ppb.