There really isn’t a whole lot of “good” that gold can do for the environment. The main practical use that the metal has is the fact that it deflects heat well. (Hence gold plating on space shuttles.)
As far as the bad, gold mining itself is a very dangerous and hazardous to the environment as it is harmful to the landscape around a mine, and causes rock disposal problems, amongst other issues.
Gold is a naturally occurring mineral so aside from releasing itself back into the ecosystem, its not doing much. Like the previous poster, most gold mining is terrible for the environment.
Back in the days of the Alaska Gold Rush, people would find gold by standing in streams and panning for gold. This didn’t really have any negative affects on the environment. Later people discovered that it’s easier to dig gold out where it lies in the rocks. There are several types of gold mining but the two reoccurring reoccurring themes are either digging a huge hole in the ground (open pit mining) or making a tunnel into the ground (mines as we usually know them).
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