Interview on Metal Mining

By Marisol

Marisol: Since Earth Day is April 22nd, maybe we could talk a little bit about mining and how mining affects our earth.

Lauren: Sure, so mining is an extractive practice and that’s where we get all our metals and things, minerals are mined. And so maybe we can talk about something that most people know– gold and silver– and how that might affect a country or the environment. So let’s take El Salvador, for example. El Salvador is a country that has been extremely affected by mining practices. International companies have come in and made contracts within communities to mine in their area. And what happens, international communities will come into a country like El Salvador and we’ll go into certain areas and create contracts with these areas or their local governments. And without really explaining what will be the effect of these mining practices. And what happened in our is that international companies will come in and create contracts to mine in specific areas, and they don’t have a relationship with the land. So there’s that element of caring for the land and caring what you do to the land that is missing.

So what happens is these communities are highly affected because their water is completely damaged by the chemicals that they use for these extractive practices. And in El Salvador, 90 percent– 90 percent– of the country’s drinking water is polluted to the point where it might take 500 or so years for it to rebound. And so showering, drinking, cooking, enjoying swimming in all of these waters is not possible. And they have now banned metal mining, and it’s a little too late. But they’re setting a precedent for the for the world that metal mining is highly pollutive.

Marisol: So what can we as individuals help with this metal mining?

Lauren: We can, I guess, all begin to think about what we’re using in our daily lives that are affecting communities elsewhere and our want for resources, how it’s affecting things, whether it’s our e-waste from computers and laptops and cell phones, things that are mined, minerals that are mined and metals that are mined for these purposes or whether it’s the jewelry that we wear.

In Peru, in the Amazon, the indigenous communities are highly affected by legal and illegal mining that are affecting their waterways and their communities. And if that were my family, that’s something that doesn’t rest well with us. So I’ve personally stopped wearing any gold or silver because if I’m wearing it, I’m saying that these practices are OK. And so for me, that’s how I personally have shifted.