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Impacts of Mining Mining can impact local communities both positively and negatively. The gendered impacts of mining Our work shows that the impacts of mining are not gender neutral. Read our case study. Some resources can be mined using more than one method, as in the case of coal, gold and uranium, and can then have many environmental impacts which include deforestation, destruction of habitats, soil erosion, disruption of watershed, and pollution.
Exploration, production or extraction and post-mining land-use are the three phases of mining according to National Academy Press Steps , and are all processes which result in deforestation explains Global Forest Atlas GFA. Many of the minerals are located in forests or in protected areas in the tropics and boreal.
For example, mining is responsible for,. The type of mining and the material mined also has an important influence on the extent and type of destruction. Consider the example of coal extraction through strip mining. Coal is mined by strip and underground mining. Strip mining is more harmful as larger tracts of land is affected, but is favored by the industry as it is cheaper reports Greenpeace. In the U.
Greenpeace reports that since to , "nearly 2. Loss of forests and subsequent mining operations disturb the soil.
Mining and its Impact on the Environment
Strip mining is particularly responsible for soil erosion as the top soil is blasted to reach the shallow seams of coal according to Greenpeace. The displaced fertile topsoil is eroded or transported away leaving the area unfit for growing any trees. It is this disturbance of soil which makes it difficult to grow trees in many mined areas in the U. Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT elaborate that the erosion effects can linger long after mining has ended, and can impact swathes of land, beyond the immediate surroundings of the mine.
For example, metallic dust from copper and nickel mines persist for many decades and reach areas kilometers away from mines points out a University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology report pg.
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There are many heavy metals and toxic chemicals that are buried in the soil that get released during mining and end up polluting air, water and land. Surface or open pit mining and underground mining are hazardous in all stages of mining.
4 mining and its impacts to environment
Soil waste dug and tunnelled is left as tailings or spoils, and can expose radioactive rocks, and create metallic dust. These tailings are also subject to erosion by wind and rain. When mixed with water the toxic soil brought up forms slurry which can soak into soil or leach into water explains MIT. Metals when they mix with water can also become acidic. This acid drainage can be a major environmental and health problem that persists for centuries notes Greenpeace and National Geographic.
In Tar Creek, Oklahoma, zinc and lead that found its way into water, has made drinking water unsafe for local communities adds National Geographic. Copper and nickel dust from mines can make soil acidic for many kilometers of land around mines, and affect plant growth and animals reports the University of Minnesota report. Many of the chemicals used in mining are toxic and can escape into soil and water too. Mercury used in underground and hydraulic mining for gold causes water pollution affecting aquatic life note WWF and Mongabay.
Cyanide is another toxic chemical used in mining that can collect in leach ponds harming wildlife drinking from them points out MIT. Dust is a major air pollutant produced by mining. Fine and coarse particulate matter PM that measure less than 2.
Fine PM is a greater problem as it can reach the lungs leading to respiratory problems. Visibility can also be affected in times of acute dust plume production explains an Australian government release. The process of mining can increase climate change risks. For example methane gas that is trapped in coal seams is released into the air in underground mining.
Since this is one of the greenhouse gases, its release increases global warming. Moreover, deforestation destroys erstwhile carbon sinks increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Mining depletes ground and surface water through many ways, and can in many cases also pollute it affecting its quality.
One of the ways ground water is depleted is by reducing the watershed area by cutting forests. Forest trees break the fall of rain, and help in its slow absorption by the soil.