29 Suffolk Transnat'l L. Rev. 79 (2005-2006)
Multifaceted Approach to the Regulation of Cyanide in Gold Mining Operations, A

handle is hein.journals/sujtnlr29 and id is 83 raw text is: A MULTIFACETED APPROACH TO THE
REGULATION OF CYANIDE IN
GOLD MINING OPERATIONS
I. INTRODUCTION
Open-pit mining, a common technique for extracting gold
from land, devastates landscapes and environments around the
world.' These gold mining projects use cyanide and other toxic
materials to extract gold from the ore, which poses an ongoing
threat to local communities.2 The gold mining industry consists
of large multinational corporations that establish their opera-
tions in many regions of the developing world, often on land
belonging to indigenous peoples whose livelihoods depend on
the local environment.3 The developing body of international
environmental and indigenous rights law still fails to afford peo-
ple adequate control over their local environments.4 Indigenous
peoples and their environments do not receive sufficient protec-
tions from the dangers of open-pit mining because of shortcom-
ings in international treaties, national enforcement, and industry
regulation.5 Indigenous peoples are often left without recourse
1. See EARTHWORKS AND OXFAM AMERICA, DIRTY METALS: MINING, COMMU-
NITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT 18 (2004), http://www.nodirtygold.org/pubs/DirtyMet-
alsHR.pdf [hereinafter DIRTY METALS] (explaining detrimental impact of gold
mining on communities and environments). One ounce of gold leaves behind sev-
enty-nine tons of mine waste. Id. at 1.
2. See EARTHWORKS AND OXFAM AMERICA, GOLD MINING FACTS, Environ-
mental Media Services, http://www.ems.org/gold/facts.html (last visited Oct. 7, 2004)
(providing facts and statistics on environmental impact of large gold mining opera-
tions). Approximately half of the world's gold supply between 1995-2015 will come
from land belonging to indigenous people. Id. See also MINERAL RESOURCES Fo-
RUM, CYANIDE FACTS, http://www.mineralresourcesforum.org/technical/cyanide/cya-
nidejfacts.htm (last visited Sept. 23, 2004) (describing dangerous properties of
cyanide and its use to extract gold). Cyanide spills can occur at mining sites and
release cyanide compounds into the local water supply. See id.
3. See Peter Bille Larsen, Mining and Indigenous Peoples: A Brief Assessment
from IUCN's Social Policy Perspective 17-19 (Oct. 2003) (unpublished manuscript, on
file with The World Conservation Union), http://www.iucn.org/themes/spg/Files/min-
ing (addressing law and policy protecting indigenous peoples' rights with respect to
mining).
4. See Larsen, supra note 3, at 8-9, 16 (noting continued marginalization of indig-
enous peoples).
5. See Larsen, supra note 3, at 10, 19-20 (acknowledging inadequacies in current
regulatory structure). National legislation often fails to afford indigenous peoples ad-
equate protections, allowing commercial mining enterprises to operate legally on in-
digenous land. Id. at 19. Companies may voluntarily adopt protective policies. Id. at

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