How is mining impacting the environment

Team Veye | 08-Jul-2019 mining impacting the environment

Mining is the extraction of minerals and other geological materials of economic value from deposits on the earth. Environmental impacts of mining can occur at local, regional, and global scales through various mining practices

Mining can have severely adverse effects on the environment including erosion, loss of biodiversity, or the contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water by the chemicals emitted from mining processes.  The formation of sinkholes is also possible. Other than environmental damage, mining may also affect the surrounding population's health as a result of contamination caused by the leakage of chemicals.

The main impact of mining and oil development on these ecosystems is the alteration of the water regime, especially the lowering of the water table and depletion of groundwater. These impacts may result in increased salinization of the soil and erosion, which eventually lead to a decline in vegetation and wildlife species.

Different types of mining methods can have significant public health and environmental effect. The erosion of exposed tailing dams, mine dumps, hillsides, and the resultant siltation of creeks, drainages, and rivers can affect the neighboring areas. Mining around farming areas may either destroy or disturb the croplands or productive grazing lands while in wilderness areas it can cause either the disturbance or the destruction of ecosystems.

All mining methods affect the quality of air, as unrefined materials are released to the surface when mineral deposits are exposed from the site. Such particles can adversely affect the health of humans thus contributing to illnesses related to the respiratory systems such as emphysema. 

A landscape affected by contaminants from mining sites can take a long time before they completely recover. Remediation processes do not offer any guarantees that the biodiversity of the land will recover as it were before the mining activity. Aquatic organisms are also affected by the mining industry by direct poisoning.

Mining operations have environmental responsibility which includes the protection of land, water, and air and restoring the topsoil to a mine site because the topsoil contains most of the landscape’s seed stores. Ideally, at the start of mining, this soil would be set aside, somewhere it won’t blow or wash away until the mine closes and the soil can be replaced. This is not happening normally.

 Moreover, when it comes to rehabilitating mine sites, Australia faces some unique challenges. We have an ancient flora developed on ancient soils that have developed systems that don’t require large-scale migration because the systems have become inherently very stable over very long periods of time. Also, Australian mines are found in a diverse array of landscapes and ecosystems, many of them relatively undisturbed. 

Still, given all these challenges globally, in many ways, Australia is leading in mine site rehabilitation


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