The Risks Associated With the Mining Industry

You cannot undervalue or underestimate the contributions of mining to humanity. It has always played a role in every human undertaking and in all aspects of human life. The products of the mining industry are everywhere. You can even find some of them in outer space. Mining is such an important industry, but the dangers it can bring to the environment can’t be discounted as well. It is in fact the main reason why companies, governments, and civil society are trying to work hand in hand; they want to find a solution to this problem. Here are some of the major issues governments and mining companies are trying to isolate:

Most of the environmental problems caused by mining do not happen during the actual mining process. A lot of them happen during transportation of the mineral ore up to the stage when it is processed to remove earth materials and other impurities.

Oil spill is one big possibility during in mining. It is a looming crisis in the transportation of mineral ores from one point to another. When oil spill occurs in the ocean, it can pollute the waters and cause the death of many ocean organisms. Oil spill can damage the ecosystem of the affected body of water. It can result from sea mishaps, but this problem can be prevented through the good judgment of the ship’s captain.

Acid rain is described as rainfall that has become acidic due to environmental pollution. It is destructive to the environment especially to forests, lakes and the flora and fauna that depend on them. Acid rain is caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels because of their sulfur and nitrogen content. Mining contributes to the formation of acid rain through its nonferrous metal smelter. It emits sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, affecting rainwater and subsequently polluting forests and lakes.

This is an impending consequence of most mining projects. It happens when earth material is disturbed in large quantities, and it can result to the transportation of significant quantities of sediment by water. When the sediment drops out of the solution sedimentation takes place downstream. Sedimentation and erosion can affect surface water. It moves the soil that holds the nutrients that sustain life. It also affects vegetation and the organisms that thrive in the affected area.

Mining uses chemicals to refine its products and to remove unwanted materials from the valuable mineral. The chemicals used in the mining process include cyanide, mercury, petroleum products, acids, and solvents. All of these are toxic and when released into the environment, they can contaminate the soil and water. This can negatively affect wildlife, waterfowl, fishes, and humans. The cyanide-contaminated solution that miners leave in tailing ponds also causes death and destruction to unsuspecting wildlife that is drawn to it. The cyanide and other chemicals that leaked to the ground are usually carried down into bodies of water by the rain.

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