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Gold mining is a rapidly growing industry with new laws being passed each day for protection of waterways endangered species and their habitats New ways of extracting the gold are also being introduced Gold is a very valuable substance both financially and scientifically Gold is completely unreactive with oxygen so it will never rust or tarnish It is one of the most conductive of all metals and is only not-used because of its high price The ductility and malleability of gold is unparalleled one ounce of gold can be drawn into a wire five miles long or can be rolled and hammered into a sheet of one hundred square feet Gold is also the most reflective metal for infrared energy and the most conductive for thermal energy So you can see why it is so valuable The process they use to mine gold is most commonly the cyanide leaching method It involves dissolving crushed gold ore in a solution of sodium calcium or potassium cyanide Zinc is then added causing metallic gold to precipitate Other ore particles are separated out by filtration and the zinc either dissolves in this process or is removed during the smelting of the metal The ore is first crushed in rod or ball mills which reduces the ore to a powdery substance The gold is extracted by amalgamating the powder with mercury Around seventy percent is extracted at this point before the cyanide leaching takes place The cyanide solution from this process is usually allowed to accumulate it forms pools of toxins seeps into streams and aquifers and becomes a major pollutant in the areas in which it is used Extensive research is currently being carried out into the extent of pollution in mining areas A law has been passed in the US stating that environmental impact studies must be completed before a mining permit can be issued Many mining operations have committed to habitat improvement projects for such
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