The Human Cost Of Gold

The Human Cost Of Gold

INTERVIEWER: Gold is maybe the
most universal shorthand there is for value and for greed. The ancient Egyptians
were obsessed with it. European explorers marauded
through South America in search of it. And American cities, like
San Francisco and Seattle, rose to prominence
because of it. It’s a big part of
our history as humans. Looking at all that,
our obsession with gold also seems historical. Sort of, old-timey. But that’s not at all true. There’s still huge
demand for gold today. The recession of 2008 helped
gold quadruple in value. And a full half of all the
gold mined in the world has been mined in the
past 50 years, alone. But what is different about
gold today is how we get it. DIEGO CUPOLO: What happens
in gold producing areas is not what we imagine,
where somebody’s in a cave using a
chisel and hammer to get these big gold nuggets. INTERVIEWER: That’s Diego
Cupolo, a photojournalist who spent some time
in Cajamarca, Peru near a modern gold mine. Actually, not just
any gold mine, the largest in all
of Latin America. And modern mining looks very
different than it used to. DIEGO CUPOLO: Most of the
gold that we are mining now comes in the form of
little specks of sand and little flakes
mixed in with dirt. So basically, a lot
of these companies are using open-pit mines to
grab as much dirt as possible. And then they process it
with different chemicals, including cyanide,
mercury, arsenic. INTERVIEWER: Basically,
a laundry list of all the things you want
to keep far away from people. But the mining process
creates a lot of wastewater laced with those pollutants. And up in the Andes Mountains,
the water doesn’t stay put. DIEGO CUPOLO: When you
take a mining operation and put it on top of a mountain,
the water, as we all know, only follows gravity. it goes down in every direction. [MUSIC PLAYING] INTERVIEWER: And therein
lies the problem. According to Diego,
poisoned water has seeped throughout
the region, causing stomach cancer in
people, illnesses in livestock, and decimated fish populations. And the people of Cajamarca,
who were promised new wealth from the mining economy,
haven’t all seen a benefit. DIEGO CUPOLO: They see
water that is contaminated and economic opportunities
that haven’t really changed for them. Quality of life has remained the
same for many of these people without any of the profits that
you assume a gold mine would bring to a region. INTERVIEWER: And so the
people have done the one thing that they’re able to do
about the mines, protest. They’re pushing back against
foreign corporate influence, ruined natural resources, and a
history that somehow has never seemed to change for them. DIEGO CUPOLO: They’ve been
exploited for about 500 years now, ever since the
Spanish arrived and started taking the Inca’s gold. It’s the same story that
happens wherever you have resource extraction projects. It’s a dirty industry,
which makes private profits and public disasters. INTERVIEWER: For Diego,
it all comes back to the value of gold. As expensive as gold is right
now, after visiting Cajamarca, Diego sees it as
undervalued, dangerously so. DIEGO CUPOLO: I realize
that gold is cheap because we pay through it
through the lives of people who live in gold-producing areas,
through the lives of people that live in Cajamarca or
any region in the world. INTERVIEWER: For
a very different looking protest
movement, check out this next video on the
infamous black bloc protests, and why participants
choose to remain anonymous. SUBJECT: People that are
doing black bloc tactics always have black bandanas. They always have some
king of face covering. Sometimes they’re wearing
sunglasses or hats or masks. They always wear black clothes. INTERVIEWER: And as always,
don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching.


  1. So similar to what's happening in Brazil right now, the worst environmental disaster in our history. They just killed a big river

  2. Amazing that someone i don't know knows my feelings and thoughts so well that he put them in a video and we, as humanity, saw it!Thank you!

  3. I never understood why gold is so valuable. It is shiny and beautiful. Thats it. That is why its worth so much money? I dont get it.

  4. its easy to say something, but once you been offered those much Gold? will you able to resist the temptation of Gold? Gold is in our nature as human, its hard to resist.

  5. More murder of human beings. This is what happens when we as the international people are excessively capitalist and have no socialist being. Ideally, markets should be capitalist while the government socialist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.