Sunday & a Mountain of Gold

Hint: getting rich will only take 2161 football fields

Sunday morning, cold and cosy in Berlin. Mornings are for reading, here in our lovely nest. Recently appointed member of the Advisory Board of the Earthbeat Foundation, my curiosity for everything related to gold is borderless. I stumble across an article on Le Monde, French newspaper, and discover a project I can’t keep for myself: La Montagne d’Or.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

It is funny how you wake up one day, thinking you will keep on doing what you did yesterday. And then, you feel that this is not enough. Today is Sunday and today is the day The Story of the Storyteller starts. I will write stories that are too beautiful or too itchy to keep quiet. Because learning is not enough, I found here the escape: sharing.

The Montagne d’Or is one of the largest gold mining projects in the world, currently being developed in French Guiana by a consortium of a Canadian group, Columbus Gold, and a Russian group, Nordgold. In a nutshell,

  • the project will be built between 2019 and 2022 to extract gold during 12 years,
  • it will manage to extract 7 tonnes of gold per year, i.e. around 85 tonnes in total

In order to complete this project:

  • Amazon forest will be removed at an equivalent of 2161 football fields
  • 2000 species will be endangered, including 127 protected species, and human beings

Ah yeah, and I forgot. How will they do it? Easy. They will use 57.000 tonnes of explosives, 46.500 tonnes of cyanide and 195 million litres of fuel.

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

I learn this while drinking my tea on this cosy Sunday morning. I feel an urge. Closing that article page and browsing through ceramic designs (my new passion). I feel uncomfortable. The couch is suddenly an unfriendly zone. My heartbeat is higher, my breath too short. And then I pause. I know that feeling too well: feeling helpless. Feeling there is nothing I can do to stop these giants from using our planet. But then I realise, if I can share this knowledge with one person only, and this person shares it with another one, then things can change. So I jump again on the learning journey.

The two questions left to assess the usefulness of that project are the following:

  • Do we need gold? With gold used in diverse areas: jewellery (more than 50% of the demand); investment, i.e. gold bar, gold coins, gold ETFs (around 20% of the demand); industry, i.e. electronic, dentistry and other industrial uses (around 10%) and central bank purchases (around 12%), gold is a widely used metal worldwide.
  • Do we need gold extraction? A striking figure I learned through the Earthbeat Foundation is that 90% of gold already extracted on earth is not used. Circulation of this resource is almost inexistent. Therefore, what do we need? To remove natural resources, to pollute irreversibly our world and to endanger species? Or do we need to redesign the system, to make gold circulation a tanglible reality? Gold recycling is in its early days and the potential is huge.
  • Shall Columbus Gold and Nordgold be eating the cake while we look, horrified, at the crumbs left after? Why would we allow these two companies to take so much from our beautiful planet and destroy it for ever? Why tolerating such a violation for profit only? They claim they will rebuild the ecosystem after the 12 years. Even a 4 year old child knows that you can’t rebuilt something for ever destroyed.

Today is Sunday and I stand against this ugly project. Let’s put all our creative brains together, including the ones who designed La Montagne d’Or, to redesign the system. If we need gold so much, then we have to be clever enough to design a system where the 90% already extracted is in use, and our lovely planet is not devastated.

As always in such situations, while feeling hopeless, I ask myself: “What can I do?” And, in a matter of a few clicks and thoughts, I know.

  • I can get informed on the project on WWF, Stop La Montagne d’Or.
  • I can sign their petition, if I think something is wrong with that project.
  • I can watch the trailer, and share it
  • I can ask questions to the developers of the project, or tell them I don’t agree.
  • I can read the IPCC report of the United Nations and get informed, more than ever, on cherishing our beautiful planet.

Only now can I breath a bit deeper. My chest is lighter. Yes, I can create change, even if this is one micro step at a time.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Update: a couple of days after expressing my disagreement on their Facebook posts towards their project, La Montagne d’Or deleted my comments and questions from their Facebook page and blocked me from commenting. It seems this is the best they can do to justify the beauty of their horrendous project.

Photo by MUILLU on Unsplash