Gold 101: Hard Rock and Death Metal

Some nuggets about America’s dirtiest industry.

Photo used under <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tator82/451998879/" target="_blank">Creative Commons license</a>.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Share of revenues that hard rock mining companies pay for operating on public land: 0%

Estimated value of minerals mined from public lands since 1872: $408 billion

Amount the federal government would collect annually if mining companies paid royalties: $100 to $200 million

Minimum number of times legislation to require royalties or leasing fees has been beaten back in Congress: 14

Amount mining companies save annually due to a tax break on income from public lands: $327 million

Amount a Canadian firm paid for 1,950 acres of public land in Nevada in 1994: $9,765

Estimated worth of the gold on that land: $10 billion

Number of new claims staked on public lands in the West since 2003: 206,688

Number that are within 5 miles of a major city: 16,282

Number that are within 5 miles of a national park: 2,901

Portion of all toxic waste released in the US in 2006 that came from mines: 1/3

Factor by which metal mines emit more mercury than all other industries combined: 9

Amount of waste produced by mining the gold for a single wedding band: 20 tons

Estimated cost of cleaning up the 500,000 abandoned mines in the US: at least $32 billion

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate