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"Gold That Grows on Trees": Gold-harvesting plants


Christopher Anderson has discovered a way to "use common crops to soak up contaminants in soil from gold-mining sites and return the areas to productive agriculture." The harvested gold pays for cleaning up the site, and training the locals in agriculture.

The process, phyto-remediation, works as follows:

  1. Treat soil with chemicals to break down the gold into water-soluble particles.
  2. Plant crops, such as corn or canola, which can naturally absorb large quantities of metals.
  3. Harvest plants as they are dying — before they begin to break down and let the metals seep back into the soil — and extract the metals from them.

The process is very cheap, and 1kg of gold, and 500g of mercury, can be harvested per acre. In addition to harvesting gold and mercury, the process also harvests a profitable byproduct, "purple gold". "Purple gold" is a nanoparticle of gold which is purple, not yellow, and melts at 1/10 the temperature of regular gold, making it extremely valuable.

The problem Anderson was seeking to resolve is that of small gold-mines, which are quickly exhausted and then abandoned, leaving toxic chemicals behind in the ground, making the nearby ground useless for farming, and dangerous for drinking water. This kind of problem, I might add, is caused by The State on two levels: (1) Regulations which prevent the private ownership of mines; (2) The State's refusal to enforce the property rights of those who's property is polluted by the polluters. So much for the idea that the free market is "bad for the environment", and that "The State has to regulate it". It seems that not only can the free market clean up its own messes, but it can also clean up messes made by The State.


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