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Saturday, August 1, 2009

How Does Mining Affect the Environment

strip coal mining
As most of us are aware, mining is one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries. Mining can seriously affect land, air, and even water systems. The greatest challenge confronting the mining industry today is to find ways of extracting and processing mineral and metal with minimum damage to our ecosystem.

The adverse environmental impacts of mining operation start with mineral exploration, continues throughout the extraction and subsequent processing and at times persist even after the entire operations are over. Mining can cause serious land degradation, large-scale denudation of forest cover, weakening of biodiversity, pollution of air, water and soil. The fall out can extend well beyond the mining area and lead to many social, economic and political disturbances. To mitigate the adverse impacts of mining and restore the mining-affected areas, it is imperative to conduct proper research and find ways and means to protect the environment.

We had hitherto paid scant attention to the protection of the environment. Therefore the question of environmental protection has today become critically important. The mining industry is seriously attempting to develop effective technologies and new processing methods to ensure that the modern mining activities of exploration, planning, operation, and restoration are conducted in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. It is earnestly pursuing research activities oriented toward the safe and responsible use of our mineral resources.
If we take a look at the mining companies, there are several ways in which they can take steps to safeguard the environment. Mining companies would have to re-examine their own mining operations. Their impact on mining the land, the fuel that they use in running the mining equipment, and how they will restore the land once they have exhausted the mine's resources.
Despite our passion for electronic goods, let us not forget that the manufacture, use, and disposal of electronic devices can incalculably harm the environment. The manufacture of electronics involves mining- often strip mining- which can adversely affect the environment as also a number of caustic chemicals that are used to make circuit boards and other electronic components. Added to this, the batteries that supply backup power that most of our electronic gadgets run on are decidedly poisonous. Let us also not forget that the disposal of electronics can create health hazards because of all of the heavy metals that they contain. The one solution to overcome environmental impacts of electronics is recycling of old electronics to the extent possible. Recycling almost eliminates the need for mining that otherwise has to be done to acquire the raw materials needed to manufacture new electronics. Recycling requires less energy than processing the materials that go into electronics from their raw form.

Yet another environmental hazard, more serious than electronics, is coal mining. Coal companies keep opening up a mountain like removing the top of an egg. Coal dust settles like pollen over the surrounding areas. Coal mining creates several billion gallons of coal slurry, which contains extremely high levels of mercury, cadmium, and nickel. Although lauded by mining companies that this is a safer, more efficient way to produce coal, this type of strip mining has evoked strong protests from environmentalists and people who reside near coal mining areas. Coal mining work can be extremely dangerous, as the numerous occupational hazards can cause critical injuries or even death. If you have been injured in a coal mining accident, you have legal rights to claim for damages.

There are other environmental concerns arising out of metal mining operations such as physical disturbances to the landscape, waste rock disposal, development of metal-bearing and acidic soils and waters and not the least public safety.

Bryan Peter is a Copywriter of Underground Mining. Our primary mission is to help you realize the importance of natural resources derived from the process of mining to our economic comfort and standard of life. For more information visit: Diamond Mining contact him at