There Will Be Dead: The Real Cost of Gold

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 7:00pm
Nicolo Famiglietti

Nicolo Famiglietti presents an illustrated talk about gold mining in Peru and the resistance of the indigenous people to the destruction of their land and water. 500 years ago Manco Inca, one of the last leaders of Incan resistance against the Spanish, said "Even if the snows of the Andes turned to gold, still they would not be satisfied." The same can be said of today’s conquistadors. The easy pickings long gone, today’s multinational gold mining companies in South America and elsewhere move mountains, then leach the crushed rock with sodium cyanide, poisoning water, air and soil. Waste pits, where mine tailings are stored, await the next flood or earthquake to spill their poisonous contents across the landscape as has happened nearly one-hundred times since record keeping began in the 1960s. So much elemental mercury, a by-product of the sodium cyanide leaching process, is produced that it cannot all be rerouted into the medical industry as in the past. Increasingly, it must be dealt with as hazardous waste requiring long term storage. Multinational large-scale gold mining threatens the environment, health and cultural integrity of indigenous communities. Can such damage be justified?

Nicolo Famiglietti, is an eyewitness to the devastation being wrought in the Andes of Peru and the resistance of the local people. He gave an illustrated talk on why what’s happening in the open pit gold mines of Peru’s northern highlands is an issue that concerns us all. Famiglietti is an essayist and travel/social documentary photographer specializing in Mexico and South America after a career in higher education. Watch his presentation and read his report at