Mining vs. recycling

Bergbau vs. Recycling

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 comparably serious consequences for people and the environment.

Silver and gold have a very special aura and have fascinated people for thousands of years, but in order to process these precious metals, they first have to be extracted, and 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 recycled precious metals are a wonderfully "clean" alternative.

Based on current production levels, 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 Jewelry 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. Open-cast 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, power and water supplies and the construction of sometimes illegal settlements for the workers also cause enormous damage to often untouched ecosystems. The residents of the mining areas suffer particularly from this destruction.

In addition to large-scale industrial mining, there is also small-scale mining, where workers often dig for silver illegally and without mining licenses, using the simplest of means. The conditions here are particularly catastrophic: the workers crawl through ankle-deep mud, climb into narrow shafts without protective equipment or safety equipment, and are exposed to highly toxic chemicals. Violence, crime, slavery, human trafficking, and prostitution are part of everyday life here.

Water - the basis of life

Silver mining is extremely water-intensive. Due to the quantities required, the groundwater level in some mining regions drops so much that wells and rivers dry up. Not only can this destroy the livelihoods of the people living there, in the worst case the water then ends up back in nature as a toxic liquid. Silver ore usually has a silver content of less than one percent. To extract the precious metal, highly toxic cyanide is usually used, similar to gold mining, which is fatal even in the smallest doses. The resulting cyanide solution, which usually also contains sulfuric acid and heavy metals, is stored in retention basins. Unfortunately, accidents occur again and again due to dam breaks or floods, which means that this highly toxic mixture enters the environment and contaminates soil and groundwater. The same danger exists when highly toxic, acidic mine water is produced in ore deposits, which, if allowed to seep away uncontrolled, 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 are unfortunately not uncommon in gold and silver mining.

Recycled silver as a clean alternative

The purpose of recycling, i.e. the reuse of objects and consumer goods that have reached the end of their life cycle, is undisputed. 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 this is different with precious metals.

Recycled silver and mined silver are absolutely identical and do not differ from each other visually, chemically or physically. Not only does it have the same quality, but recycled silver also has the advantage that all of the problems associated with mining are eliminated. In addition, the energy required for recycling is many times less than for silver extraction from ore, which also saves a lot of CO2.

If the recycling process, as with Avenida Jewelry, takes place according to RJC standards in Germany or Switzerland, this means the greatest possible transparency and security with regard to ethically sound sources of the recycled raw materials.

Why Avenida Jewelry uses recycled silver

At Avenida Jewelry, 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 inextricably 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 to people and nature.

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