Santa Fe, New Mexico, January 16th, 2014. A new coalition of jewelers and conservation groups today released Public Risk, Private Reward: an analysis of the Ortiz Gold Mine proposal, revealing that Santa Fe Gold corporation’s proposed 1000+ foot deep open pit mine in the Ortiz Mountains would consume enough water to sustain thousands of households, and potentially endanger area water supplies by draining acidic runoff into groundwater in perpetuity.
The coalition, which represents the first time in New Mexico that jewelers and conservationists have combined forces to oppose irresponsible mining, is comprised of Earthworks, Fair Jewelry Action, and the Turquoise Trail Preservation Trust.
Reviewed and endorsed by one the country’s leading scientists on the environmental impacts of gold mining – Dr. Glenn Miller of the University of Nevada, Reno – the report indicates that:
- The mine may annually consume the water equivalent of between 4,600 and 7,800 New Mexicans, the latter being 11% of the population of Santa Fe.
- The mine would be similar to the nearby Cunningham Hill Mine, which is draining acid into groundwater and will continue to do so for generations.
- Because the ore is low grade, mining each ounce of gold will generate 169 metric tons of waste, creating a massive tailings heap and burying an adjacent canyon with waste rock.
- Santa Fe Gold is on shaky financial grounds, has publicly declared that it has never turned a profit, and cannot afford to purchase insurance in the event of accidents that may cause environmental harm.
“As we cope with horrible drought, why are we considering a gold mine that would consume enough water to sustain thousands of people?” asked Earthworks’ Southwest Circuit Rider, Pete Dronkers, the report’s author. “And as global warming becomes a bigger and bigger problem, why would we permit a mine that would release hundreds of millions of pounds of greenhouse gases?”
“The thought that I could end up selling a wedding ring with gold that turned the Ortiz Mountains into a polluted industrial zone is repulsive,” said Marc Choyt, President of Santa Fe-based Reflective Images – a jewelry design and retail company – and co-founder of Fair Jewelry Action. He continued, “Dirty, conflict ridden gold has become too common in the jewelry sector, which is why jewelers of conscience must speak up against mining companies and produce jewelry made with artisan-scale fair trade gold and recycled precious metals.”
The campaign against the Ortiz mine proposal is sponsored by the Turquoise Trail Preservation Trust, an organization dedicated to support the region’s unique beauty, economy and historic heritage.
“Santa Fe Gold’s mine would scar the Ortiz Mountains with a huge open-pit visible for miles on our National Scenic Byway.” said Mike Madden, President of the Turquoise Trail Preservation Trust. “Not only would the mine destroy the viewshed, but it would also increase truck traffic along the Turquoise Trail, which has become a popular recreational and tourist destination.”
Fair Jewelry Action is an environmental justice and human rights network promoting traceable and transparent sourcing within the jewelry sector.
Earthworks is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of resource extraction while seeking sustainable solutions.
The report is available online at https://earthworks.org/public_risk_private_reward_an_analysis_of_the_ortiz_gold_mine_proposal