Cyanide-leaching is inherently dangerous to the environment and the communities surrounding a mine.
Cyanide in a highly toxic chemical. The 2000 Baia Mare (Romania) cyanide spill was a leak of cyanide into the Someş River. The polluted waters eventually reached the Tisza and then the Danube. The spill has been called the worst environmental disaster in Europe since the Chernobyl disaster.
For 15 years the Romanians are fighting against a corporation (Gabriel Resources) who wants to start the largest open mine in Europe to extract gold and silver using cyanide. For more details: http://www.rosiamontana.org/en.
Other examples of ecological disasters due to use of cyanide in mining: • Zortman-Landusky Mine, Montana, 1982: Fifty-two thousand gallons of cyanide solution poison the drainage that supplies fresh drinking water for the town of Zortman. A mine employee discovered the accident when he noticed the smell of cyanide in his tap water at home.
• Summitville Mine, Colorado, 1992: Summitville gold mine was responsible for contaminating 17 miles of the Alamosa River with cyanide and other contaminants.
• Kumtor Gold Mine, Kyrgyzstan, central Asia, 1998: A truck carrying 2 tons of sodium cyanide crashed into the Barskoon River. Two thousand six hundred poison cases and 4 deaths were reported in the aftermath.
Gold cyanidation is a metallurgical technique for extracting gold from low-grade ore by converting the gold to a water soluble coordination complex. It is the most commonly used process for gold extraction. Production of reagents for mineral processing to recover gold, copper, zinc and silver represents approximately 13% of cyanide consumption globally, with the remaining 87% of cyanide used in other industrial processes such as plastics, adhesives, and pesticides. Due to the highly poisonous nature of cyanide, the process is controversial and its usage is banned in a number of countries and territories.
To be successful, a ban needs to be broadcasted far and wide.