Each year, miners use millions of gallons of cyanide to extract metals such as gold, copper and zinc from rock and ore. Hundreds of tons of cyanide are sometimes needed at a single site to carry out this process. Using the open-pit method, ore is piled into pits and sprayed with cyanide to separate metal from rock. These cyanide ponds often result in leakage or spillage which may contaminate surrounding watersheds. Other methods immerse ore into cyanide-filled tanks which are less prone to releases. However, just one teaspoon of a 2% cyanide solution can kill a person while smaller doses can kill wildlife and fish. Since 1970, it is estimated that accidents by our hard-rock mining industry have resulted in billions of gallons of cyanide being leaked and spilled into the environment. Often, local hazardous waste laws do not regulate the use of such large amounts of this highly toxic substance. Advocates claim the use, transport and disposal of millions of gallons of cyanide hold disastrous potential for many American communities. Such accidents have destroyed entire river ecosystems in Idaho, Montana and Colorado when this deadly chemical breeched containment. Since 1990, releases of cyanide from mining accidents have most often occurred from tailings-dam mishaps (76%), followed by pipeline failures (18%) and transportation accidents (6%). Critics claim there is no way to ensure the safe use of cyanide in mining. They also claim there are alternatives to cyanide which are available, such as the non-toxic cost-effective Haber Gold Process.
Pending Legislation: None
I oppose reforming current cyanide mining policy
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to increase safety regulations for the use, storage, transportation and disposal of cyanide used in hard-rock mining operations
I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to prohibit the use of cyanide in hard-rock mining operations