Many Indians will rush to buy gold today. First, because the prices of gold have fallen from Rs 32,000 for 10 gm this time last year, to Rs 27,400 per 10 gm currently. Second, because it is Akshaya Tritiya. But whatever the price, the real cost of gold is not factored in.
Almost 99% of what is dug out is wasted. The gold ore itself is extracted using a cyanide leaching process, which results in highly toxic waste. Much of this is typically discharged into rivers, resulting in irreversible damage.
In Guyana, gold mine waste eliminated all aquatic life in the Omai river in 1995. Predictions are that the dysfunctional Iron Mountain mine in California will continue to pollute the watershed for about 3000 years. Gold miners are documented to live and work under terrible conditions. And this does not include the siting of mines, which could be in forests that will have to go. We don’t know what the case is in India, but it is not likely to be better than the rest of the world.
Who can change this? The International Monetary Fund (IMF), with 188 member countries, holds the most gold in the world, just over 2800 tons.
It’s mandate is to boost financial stability, eliminate poverty and promote economic growth. As a gold leader, it should initiate the dialogue on greening gold, instead of accumulating assets from a process that exacerbates poverty.