by David Clendon
I hope Gerry Brownlee and his pro-mining supporters read Good magazine. In the latest issue there is a very informative article “Sitting on a Gold Mine” that confirms that there is plenty of gold already above ground, and begs the question of why we would sacrifice our conservation estate to dig up any more.
Quoting the U.S. Geological Survey, Good reveals that a tonne of ore might yield a little over 4.5 grams of gold. A tonne of circuit boards -‘electronic scrap’ – on the other hand, might yield more than twice that amount, over ten grams, depending on the age of the equipment.
A tonne of discarded mobile phones could contribute not only 300 grams of gold, but also 140 grams of copper and 130 grams of silver
So why would you mine the planet, destroying ecosystems and communities, when we could and should be mining the so-called ‘waste’ stream?
Michael Braungart’s ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach already provides a template, advocating for product and process design based on the principle that ‘waste equals food’ as it does in Nature.
We can and in some cases do design products that provide ‘nourishment’ for something new, either as safe ‘biological nutrients’, or as ‘technical nutrients’ that can circulate within a closed loop industrial cycle, ‘upcycled’ rather than re-used (if at all) for low grade uses.
The ideas are there, the technology is fast evolving, it just takes some political will and an acknowledgement that 19th century solutions will not resolve 21st century challenges.