Humans are destroying the delicate balance of our ecosystem. Mining, deforestation, agricultural expansion, mineral extraction and urban development all cause substantial harm to the health of our environment. Gold mining activities take precedence in their wide-reaching aftermath. Biodiversity loss and contaminated water streams are but a few of the many common consequences of the copious amounts of mercury, cyanide and other toxic substances, regularly released by the gold mining industry. These activities are particularly deplorable in developing countries where regulations for safe disposal of these toxic remnants are lax. Mine tailings, if not properly contained, cause unimaginable amounts of damage. It is crucial that the scale of impact be thoroughly studied by revisiting past research to fill our gaps of knowledge.
The effectiveness of academic studies and reports conducted on Gold Mining Impact(GMI) using scientometric analysis can be visualised to better identify the potential ramifications of gold mining on the environment. As seen in the research titled ‘Potential implications of gold-mining activities on some environmental components: A global assessment (1990 to 2018)’ which highlights key words in 115 works of existing literature from 1990 to 2018, in relation to two main factors: most productive authors and most collaborating countries. The strength of the association between the two can help us further understand the trend in global research. The aim of the study was to better understand the implications of mining activities on the health of the human population, the environment and the inherent problems linked to GMIs. The findings will be beneficial for stakeholders, particularly those in positions of power, who can make real change through the implementation of sustainable legislation.
The results of the study showed a growth rate of approximately 11.3% yearly since 1990. This exemplifies that research conducted on GMIs has seen an increase over the past few decades. USA and UK ranked at the top of the list as top country collaborators and institutions. These countries amongst other developed nations showed a sustained increase in environment related searches involving soil, water, air, biodiversity and aquatic life. The past studies linked these to GMIs and provided knowledge that is quintessential in mitigating the damage associated with the industry. The study also revealed that the majority of the studies on GMIs came from developed countries and a mere handful from transition countries like South Africa.
It is pivotal that more research be carried out in developing countries to better understand mining related impacts, especially since these countries are where the majority of mining operations take place. These countries face a rather turbulent socio-political environment and are consequently lacking in capabilities or choosing wilful ignorance in exchange for monetary gain. They seek to benefit the most from GMI research. Kenya, Nigeria and many other African countries are currently facing severe impairments to their environment due to mining explorations. The opportunity cost of mining is far too high to overlook. It is crucial that a sustainable solution be implemented.
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Read the full study here https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1018364720301269