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I am happily married and have two very rough and tumble boys. I have ideals of self sufficiency and low impact. My favourite passtime is growing veggies, reading books on all kinds of topics, finding out about how things impact earth and your body.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Next time you think about a new piece of jewellery...think about this too

I was thinking about my birthday a few days ago - not the age dilemma! just what did I really want to get from my hubby and boys. I really 'want' for nothing so realistically I should get nothing - but my boys like to make our birthdays special with breaky on our balcony and a home-made card and then yes usually something purchased so I had been thinking, well maybe I could get a nice simple piece of jewellery.

Now, Mothers Day wasn't too long ago and I had the same dilemma. We have our personal motto of "Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without" - borrowed from the Annie Leonard book "The Story of Stuff", so decided as I needed a new watch I would dig my old discarded ones out from the bottom draw of the kitchen and fix one of them rather than buying a new one. Well, the story went ... that while I was in the jeweller getting the new battery put into the old watch, I decided to have my wedding engagement and eternity rings cleaned and checked.... It ended up I had badly worn claws around the main diamond and it cost me $250 to fix it (which is still a load better than the heartbreak of losing the stone and the $5k price tag they said it would be to replace it)!. But I still didn't buy something new!

Anyway, back to my birthday.... I thought, if I was contemplating a piece of jewellery I had better ask a few questions of just what it might cost to extract that piece of gold or that diamond or whatever gem I decide upon out of the ground.

These figures are general/average and are a bit of open pit (surface mining) cost and a bit of underground costs and by no uncertain terms are they indicitive of every mining operation in the world but still thought provoking and maybe just worth a second thought or two.

This is also just the raw end of the deal! the extraction. There are way more costs involved in getting the final piece on to your body! or if you want to take it further - the chip in your computer - the plastic around your chip packet - the processed cereal you eat for breaky - or the lovely yellow glow of the bulb when you turn on the light switch at night.

So here we go, sit down for the ride

On average the amount of diesel used per month on one contractor on one site for surface mining vehicles 1,634,760 litres.  (Multiply that by the bowser price - not that they would pay that price.... I wouldn't mind that much in my bank account in the positive)!

Each genset (generator) uses about 60,000 litres of diesel per month. This particular place has 2 and is about to get a third.....

For a 260 tonne payload dump truck tyre is $40,000 (the one below in the pic is of the loader that loads the dump truck in 6 buckets) Weighs about 200 tonnes and the chains around the tyre cost $150,000 each

Surface Mine Loader

sitting around on site are an estimated 450 used tyres - @ $40k each??? just an astonishing $18,000,000

used tyres - guess they are still being used - as a pad for the office buildings

 and the truck new is $5,500,000 - yes million.

Underground truck
 An underground jumbo (drill) is just a cool $2mil!

Accommodation for one contractor per month is $150,000
Wages for one contractor for surface mining is about $2 million per month
Wages for one contractor underground mining is about $750,000 pm
Total for this one site would be tens of millions if you included all personnel from client and contractors!!

Naturally this is all dependent on number of people in the operation and the number of machines etc but for the ease of adding it up, the total just for wages and fuel in this example is close to $4.5million for one month - add on a tyre or two or a new machine and well the mind goes into overload!

Now, I am not picking on mining here (goodness knows I am very dearly attached to mining in more ways than one) - I am trying to get people to think about their spending habits and start thinking about the fact that everything you do, every choice you make has an impact on this place we call home.

So, next time you want something new - anything too - almost everything uses oil or coal in their extraction, manufacturing, distribution and storage - (yes even the plastic its wrapped in is a derivative of oil)  think about the real cost of where it came from and what it cost to get to you.

It may cost just more than the Earth!

Try shopping at cash converters, an op or antique shop - you may be more than surprised at what you find and what people throw out Plus it won't cost more than the Earth to buy.

What do you think? Will you think about this even once or twice? or go the next step and cut down on stuff?

Till next time
Bye for now

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