Note: In this article we refer to silver mining as an example. However, the circumstances described also apply to gold mining in a similar way and with similarly serious consequences for people and the environment.
Silver and gold have a very special appeal and have fascinated people for thousands of years, but in order to be able to process these precious metals they first have to be extracted; most of them are mined. Hardly anyone but knows what destructive effects the mining of silver, gold and other precious metals has on people and nature and that there is a wonderfully "clean" alternative to this in the form of recycled precious metals.
Based on today's production volumes, the world's silver reserves will be exhausted in less than 30 years! In order not to exploit these precious resources unnecessarily, mined silver should be avoided wherever possible. In this blog post we would like to show why recycled silver is the better alternative to mined silver and why we at avenida SANTIAGO only use recycled precious metals for our jewelry.
Environmental damage and precarious working conditions caused by silver mining
Larger silver deposits are usually found in less wealthy countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Indonesia or Peru. In order to develop silver deposits there, entire areas of land are often devastated. The opencast mines tear huge holes in the landscape and destroy the habitat of animals and plants. But underground mining and the necessary infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, electricity and water supplies and the construction of sometimes illegal settlements for workers also cause enormous damage to often untouched ecosystems. The residents in the mining areas suffer particularly from this destruction.
In addition to large-scale, industrial silver mining, there is also so-called small-scale mining, in which workers often dig for silver illegally and without mining licenses using the simplest means. Conditions here in particular are catastrophic: workers crawl through ankle-deep mud, climb into narrow shafts without protective equipment or safety, and are exposed to highly toxic chemicals without protection. Violence, crime, slavery, human trafficking and prostitution characterize everyday life here.
Water - basis of life
Silver mining is extremely water-intensive. Due to the quantities required, the groundwater level in some mining regions is falling to such an extent that wells and rivers are drying up. Not only can the livelihoods of the people living there be destroyed, but in the worst case the water then returns to nature as a toxic broth. Silver ore usually has a silver content of less than one percent. To extract the precious metal, highly toxic cyanide, which is deadly even in the smallest doses, is usually used, similar to gold mining. The resulting cyanide lye, which usually also contains sulfuric acid and heavy metals, is stored in retention basins. Unfortunately, accidents occur again and again due to dam failures or floods, which results in this highly toxic mixture entering the environment and contaminating soil and groundwater. The same danger exists if highly toxic, acidic mine water is generated in ore deposits, which, if it seeps out uncontrollably, can poison groundwater and soil for an indefinite period of time.
Another problem is the fact that gold and silver mines are repeatedly the subject of armed conflicts, which often result in serious human rights violations. Not to mention the problem of forced and child labor, which is unfortunately not uncommon in gold and silver mining.
Recycled silver as a clean alternative
The meaning of recycling, i.e. the reuse of objects and consumer goods that have reached the end of their life cycle, is undisputed. In this way, resources in the form of raw materials and energy can be saved. However, the newly obtained material does not always have the same quality as the original materials - but the situation is different with precious metals.
Recycled silver and mined silver are absolutely identical and do not differ chemically or physically from each other. So not only does it have the same quality, recycled silver also has the advantage that all of the problems described in connection with mining are eliminated. In addition, the energy required for recycling is many times lower than for extracting silver from ore, which also saves a lot of CO2.
If the recycling process, like at avenida SANTIAGO, takes place in Germany or Switzerland according to the RJC standard, this means the greatest possible transparency and security with regard to ethical sources of recycled raw materials.
Why avenida SANTIAGO relies on recycled silver
At avenida SANTIAGO we manufacture all of our jewelry fairly and sustainably in Germany and use 100% recycled silver and gold. In this way, we want to help conserve these scarce natural resources, protect our environment and avoid inhumane working conditions. For us, design and quality are inseparably linked to sustainability and fairness. We want to give our customers the opportunity to wear jewelry that is not only beautiful and durable, but also lives up to its responsibility for people and nature.