Water footprint in gold extraction: a case-study in Suárez, Cauca, Colombia
06 September 2021
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Authors: Christian E. Alvarez-Pugliese, Fiderman Machuca-Martínez, Mario Pérez-Rincón This research deepens the analysis of the mineral water footprint, especially that of gold, in regions that are understudied and where mining has been an intensified extractive activity since the colonial era, as is the case in the northern part of department of Cauca in Colombia. The research purpose was to estimate the water footprint indicators in gold mining in Suárez (Cauca, Colombia), to quantify the impacts generated by the non-returned water in the production process and the levels of pollutants in the wastewater, aimed to strength public policies, control strategies and mitigation that generates reductions in the impacts from mining activities on the environment. The water footprint values obtained were compared with other mines with similar operations. These results generate a baseline for decision making, providing elements for environmental strategic planning and regulations, demonstrating the great environmental pressure that gold activity exerts on water resources and the environment.