Ecological Production Of Metals And Industrial Minerals
While successful mining involves many factors, another consideration in bringing precious metals to market is refining. There are two types of refiners, called primary refiners and secondary refiners. Primary refiners receive materials directly from the mine, whereas secondary refiners process recycled metals. Although primary refiners may handle some recycled material, sourcing from secondary refiners who can easily segregate recycled materials is common.
There are differences, however, even between secondary refiners. Refining is an inherently dirty business which uses dangerous chemicals and lots of water. A refinery’s environmental commitment, therefore, can make a big difference on the impact it makes. We look for refineries which voice a commitment to take advantage of new technologies to reduce emissions.
Efforts are under way to develop and implement standards for the evaluation of any facility used in refining or alloying precious metals. Such standards will include, but not necessarily be limited to the following:
1. Existence of an environmental management system,
2. Procedures to monitor and prevent in-house exposure to hazardous substances,
3. Procedures to monitor and prevent emissions of hazardous substances to the environment,
4. Designation of staff dedicated to environmental compliance and management.
It will be some time before we can make products which are ecologically perfect, but we feel that you have a right to know not only the ways in which we have succeeded, but also be informed about the characteristics which are not yet what we wish them to be. Your support will bring us closer to the goal of production which is completely ecologically responsible.
Part of our plan for ecological awareness also includes facilitating discussion among artists and jewelry manufacturers regarding ecological practices which can be employed during the crafting of a piece of jewelry. Metalsmiths utilize chemicals and have waste disposal issues with ecological implications.
The one place where you will not see a difference is in the metal itself. Gold and other metals are refined to remove impurities. Gold and silver are elements, and in their pure form are the same whether they were refined from scrap, or refined from ore. There is absolutely no difference in the quality of the product you buy. But by choosing recycled precious metals, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your purchase has helped you, in one more way, to live gently with the Earth.