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Metal mining of the global workforce

Metal mining currently employs less than one-tenth of one percent of the global workforce, but consumes seven to 10 percent of the world's energy. But the major impact is environmental and the huge amount of waste generated by mining.

"Mining companies have polluted our water resources and violated our right to a healthy environment in their rush to riches," said Kalia Moldogazieva, a mining activist from Kyrgyzstan whose open-pit Kumtor mine, owned and operated by Canada's Cameco Corp.. and partially financed by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, has suffered a number of toxic spills and a 1992 cave-in that killed one worker.

In the United States, mines generate an amount of waste equivalent in weight to nearly nine times the garbage produced by all U.S. cities and towns combined, according to the two groups.

Based on gold-sales projections for the first two weeks of February, the two groups estimate that Valentine's Day sales of gold jewelry in the U.S. will have produced 34 million metric tonnes of waste worldwide.