Cyanide is one of the world’s deadliest poisons. Just one
teaspoon of a 2% cyanide solution can be lethal to a healthy human
and even smaller doses can kill wildlife.
Despite its toxicity, this same poison has been widely used by
the hard rock mining industry to assist in the extraction of precious
and non-precious metals from rock. As a result of transportation
accidents and leaks, billions of gallons of this toxic substance
has been spilled into the environment since 1970. Even discounting
the dozens of accidents that have occurred at mine sites, the processes
used by the mining industry result in cyanide and related compounds
being contained in discarded mine wastes, which can pollute our
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, Photographer: Gary Mowad
|Although very small
traces of cyanide are lethal to humans and to wildlife, the
mining industry typically uses hundreds of tons of cyanide each
year. Most spills have involved tens of thousands of tons of
this toxic chemical. In some cases, spills have killed all of
the wildlife in an affected area; in others, soils and groundwater
have been affected for years following a spill. In many cases
of cyanide accidents, the mining companies have gone bankrupt,
leaving taxpayers with the burden of costly cleanup.
Considering the risks to water, wildlife, and human health, controversy
over the use of cyanide in mining has escalated in recent years,
resulting in proposed legislation and public support for banning
its use. Spills have occurred across the country and the world for
a variety of reasons from storage to transport, indicating that
there is simply no way to safely make use of cyanide in mining.
Research has presented the mining industry with non-toxic, cost-effective
alternatives to cyanide that need to be fully explored.
This website offers the tools necessary for you to ban the use
of cyanide in metallic mining in your state. These tools include
a sample bill, talking points, press clips, a fact pack, links,
and other background information.
We may have other useful materials on this subject which are not
posted on our website. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call our office in Madison, WI at (608) 252-9800.
If you’ve used this site and found it helpful or, if you
have suggestions about how it could be made more helpful, please
let us know. Feel free to use the sample bill text included here
in your state. If you do, please notify us.