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  • Gold is one of the most precious metals in the world, and has run the gamut from its

  • use as currency, to jewelry, and even to electronic plating, and infrared shielding.

  • But for many people the cost far outweighs its intrinsic value.

  • Seeker Stories went to South America to learn about some of the worst exploitation, both

  • human and environmental.

  • Check it out.

  • Gold is maybe the most universal shorthand there is for value, and for greed.

  • The ancient Egyptians were obsessed with it.

  • European explorers marauded through South America in search of it.

  • And American cities like San Francisco and Seattle rose to prominence because of it.

  • It’s a big part of our history as humans.

  • Looking at all that, our obsession with gold also seems historical, sort of old timey - but

  • that’s not at all true.

  • There’s still huge demand for it today - the recession of 2008 helped gold quadruple in

  • value.

  • And a full half of all the gold mined in the world has been mined in the past 50 years.

  • But what is different about gold today is how we get it.

  • What happens in gold producing areas is not what we imagine where somebodies in a cave,

  • using a chisel and a hammer to get these big golden nuggets.

  • That’s Diego, a photojournalist who spent some time in Cajamarca, Peru near a modern

  • gold mine.

  • Actually, not just any gold mine...the largest in all of Latin America.

  • And modern mining looks very different than it used to.

  • most of the gold that we are mining now comes in the forms of little specks of sand, little

  • flakes mixed in with dirt.

  • a lot of these companies are using open pit mines to grab as much dirt as possible and

  • then they process it with different chemicals

  • Those chemicals are cyanide, arsenic, and mercury...basically a laundry list of things

  • you want to keep far away from people.

  • But the mining process creates a lot of waste water laced with those pollutants.

  • And up in the Andes mountains, the water doesn’t stay put.

  • when you take a mining operation and you put it on top of a mountain, the water as we all

  • know, only follows gravity, it goes down in every direction,

  • And therein lies the problem.

  • According to Diego, poisoned water has seeped throughout the region, causing stomach cancer

  • in people, illnesses in livestock, and decimated fish populations.

  • And the people of Cajamarca, who were promised new wealth from the mining economy, haven’t

  • all seen a benefit.

  • they see water that is contaminated and economic opportunities that haven't really changed

  • for them.

  • [0:30] quality of life has remained the same for many of these people without any of the

  • profits you would assume a gold mine would bring to a region

  • And so the people have done the one thing theyre able to do about the mines: protest.

  • Theyre pushing back against foreign corporate influence, ruined natural resources...and

  • a history that somehow never has seemed to change for them.

  • they've been exploited for about 500 years now, ever since the spanish arrived and started

  • taking the Incan’s gold.

  • the same story happens wherever you have resource extraction projects.

  • it's a dirty industry which makes private profits and public disasters.

  • For Diego, it all comes back to the value of gold.

  • As expensive as gold is right now, after visiting Cahamarca Diego sees it as undervalued.

  • Dangerously so.

  • i realized that gold is cheap because we pay to it through the lives of people who live

  • in gold producing areas, through the lives of people who live in Cajamarca.

  • This is video’s part of a short series were doing on protest movements around the world.

  • To get a peek behind the front lines of a movement called black bloc, click now.

  • If you want to see more in depth content like this, check out Seeker Stories.

  • Theyll take you around the world sharing the stories that surprise, challenge and inspire

  • you - like this one about a company that is revolutionizing sustainable energy with an

  • unexpected resource.

  • Please make sure to like and subscribe to Seeker Stories for more webdocs.

  • Thanks for watching!

Gold is one of the most precious metals in the world, and has run the gamut from its

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The Devastating Effects Of Gold Mining

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    BH posted on 2016/12/31
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