Nothing better illustrates the heartless and mechanistic nature of our system than modern-day gold mining. It is environmentally destructive, targets marginalized populations, promotes corruption and militarization, and is of arbitrary and questionable value. Since gold is never consumed, but rather perpetually recycled, there is no good reason why we still mine the stuff. In fact, each year, the total gold mined adds only 2% to the total above ground stocks (which is about 171,300 tonnes).
Canada is home to the first and second largest gold mining companies in the world, Barrick Gold and Goldcorp, whose operations have been protested for years by local communities and whose abuses have been well-documented. These mining operations show a pattern of impunity, lack of consent of the local population, displacement, health problems, and sometimes the militarization of entire communities. Meanwhile, Canadian pension and mutual funds invest in these companies, claiming “fiduciary responsibilities” as their reason for refusing to divest. Gold mining, like much of the extractive industry is abusive, violent, and toxic. But lacking perceived necessity, perhaps the glaring injustice of gold mining can expose the fact that our entire system is sick and must be changed.