Causes, Effects and Solutions to Mining Pollution
Water is an integral part of human existence – we need it for everything. Of course, you know we need it to survive, as it makes us healthy and aids digestion and other bodily functions.
However, aside from its contribution to healthy living, we also need water for production, hygiene, and other areas. As such, we need to protect our water bodies because that’s our only water supply.
Again, many factors threaten to pollute our environment, while some are already constants in this regard. For one, we have mining as an industrial activity. Mining requires several processes, some of which are harmful to both living creatures and our natural resources, such as water.
So, in this blog post, we’ll examine what mining pollution is, the causes, effects, and viable solutions to this problem. Let’s get started!
- Explaining Mining Pollution
- Various Causes of Mining Pollution
- Serious Effects of Mining Pollution
- Amazing Solutions to Mining Pollution
Explaining Mining Pollution
Mining is an industrial activity whereby companies or the government extract precious materials we can’t usually find on land. They have to be removed from the earth, requiring the consumption of fuel, use of machinery, chemicals, and a host of other materials.
It’s one of the significant contributors to our economy, as the materials we extract from mines can be used to make different materials. Gold, diamond, and other precious materials need to be mined.
When they’re made into jewelry and other consumable materials, we sell them, and a percentage of their price goes to the government in the form of taxes.
Disrupting the natural system becomes inevitable during the mining process – miners have to drill holes, expend chemicals, and other functions. After extracting the precious material, the miners have to separate them from the ore, which requires chemicals such as sulfur or cyanide.
These acids sometimes spill and find their way to our water bodies and sometimes land. But, of course, we’re certain you know these chemicals are hazardous, especially when humans or other living things come in direct contact with them.
They can result in poisoning, affect the lungs, stomach, and intestine, and neurological conditions.
In addition, wildlife is most at risk because they aren’t aware they may be contacting acids and have no hospital to report to in the case of poisoning.
Now, since the significant recipient of mining pollution in our water bodies and aquatic creatures, they’re most at risk. The chemicals that spill into the water bodies make it unsafe for marine animals to consume the water or make it unhealthy when it comes into contact with their bodies.
Various Causes of Mining Pollution
There are many causes of mining pollution. Some of them include the following:
1. Technological advancement
Technological advancement has a serious role to play in mining pollution. Before the advent of technology, miners had to resort to conventional methods of extracting mined materials from the ore, and these methods had little to no effect on the environment.
In addition to that, there was less reliance on machinery, which is also a contributor to mining pollution.
Now, another area that requires an increase in mining activities is the production of materials like cell phones, automobiles, and some other products. These products rely heavily on materials found in the earth, such as copper, silver, gold, and platinum, to name a few.
The more technology advances, the more we’ll have to mine the ground for more materials, and it gets worse that these materials have no close substitutes.
2. Heavy contribution to government revenue
Another cause of mining pollution is its huge contribution to government revenue. The government may be in charge of mining a certain area, or it could be the duty of a particular company.
If the former is the case, the income from selling the extracted materials or turning them into products that consumers need will go to the government. On the other hand, when private individuals mine and extract precious materials, they pay a percentage to the government.
Alternatively, they could also pay their taxes when they receive the income from the sale of the products created from precious materials. So, you see why the government and organizations rely on mining. There’s a steady source of income in it, which results in an unquenchable thirst to engage in more mining activities.
3. Lack of sufficient substitutes for mined materials
This is a problem we have to battle with, unfortunately. The materials we extract from mines have little to no close replacements. So, we cannot halt extraction because these materials have become necessities.
A good example is our cell phones. The world has become so reliant on cell phones for communication, finding information, and just about anything. You need a cell phone to reach out to people, buy food and material items, and do a host of other activities, which means it’ll be challenging to stop the production of this item.
Another item is the computer. The same goes for other gadgets. We cannot do without them, and there are no materials that we can viably use to replace them.
Now, let’s also consider jewelry. Everyone loves and uses jewelry, at least in one way or another. Of course, we have wristwatches, which are indispensable for keeping track of time. There are also neckpieces, rings, bracelets, and any other accessories you can think about.
Most of them are made from precious materials extracted from mines. We can’t replace them with substitutes, so mining activities can’t stop in this regard.
4. Increase in demand
Mining can’t stop because of the increase in demand for the materials that we mine. Of course, the demand isn’t for the raw materials but rather the manufactured ones.
Sometimes, you may be unaware that a product is made from precious materials or has materials that need to be mined in it. A good example is your computer, which has some element of gold in it. The same goes for cell phones containing copper, platinum, and other extracted materials.
The more obvious ones like jewelry are also in high demand, particularly wedding rings, as people get married almost all the time.
5. Increase in population growth
An increase in population growth automatically means an increase in demand for goods and services. So, as the population grows, there’ll be an increase in the demand for cell phones, computers, gadgets, jewelry, and other products that need mined materials for their production.
Since we cannot halt population growth, alternatives have to be provided to reduce mining pollution. However, before we discuss the solutions to mining pollution, let’s explore the effects it leaves on the environment.
Serious Effects of Mining Pollution
It’s no secret that mining pollution leaves many negative impacts on the environment – the water bodies, atmosphere, and land itself. But, unfortunately, there are also terrible effects on living things, like humans and wildlife.
So, some of the effects of mining pollution include:
1. Respiratory problems
The mining process involves drilling through the earth, which results in the release of dust in large quantities. When you inhale large amounts of dust repeatedly and over time, you may find yourself with black lung disease. It’s also known as a coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, affecting your ability to breathe.
It could take long years to become effective, and it starts with tightness, shortness of breath, and cough. It’s, however, incurable.
People who also live around mining areas can be susceptible to mining pollution because they constantly have to breathe in the dust and other chemicals expelled during the separation of precious materials from ore.
2. Results in severe injuries and sometimes death
It’s not unheard of for mines to cave in because of excessive drilling. When that happens, it can cause severe injuries to anyone who’s caught in the cave. Sometimes, these miners get stuck under the cave-ins and die when they don’t get help immediately.
Slips and falls in mines are also responsible for 25% of mining injuries.
3. Harmful to humans and wildlife
It’s also general knowledge that mining activities are dangerous to humans and wildlife. They cause respiratory problems for humans and can result in severe injuries and death when mines cave in or when miners contact sulfur or cyanide.
In addition, these separation chemicals can also spill and find their way to our water bodies, which is very deadly for aquatic creatures. A few drops may have no effect, but they can be fatal to marine animals when the spill is continuous and in large quantities.
Wildlife, too, isn’t spared. They reside on land, so when toxic fumes are released from the sulfur and cyanide, wildlife can also inhale them, and they have lesser chances of recovering or fighting these chemicals. They can also inhale too much dust from the caves, resulting in respiratory problems.
Humans may also have to battle with problems like cancer, organ damage, and other severe conditions due to constant closeness to active mines.
4. Water pollution
As we mentioned earlier, water pollution is one of the main banes of mining. Sometimes, the waste from these mines finds its way to our water bodies. While that may not be problematic when it’s in small quantities, we’ll certainly pollute our water bodies when it’s more frequent.
On the other hand, the chemicals from the mines can also pollute our water bodies. For example, sulfur and cyanide are dangerous for any living thing, and when they accumulate in large quantities, you can imagine the effect they’ll have on our water. They can render the water bodies poisonous.
5. It affects our vegetation
Our vegetation also isn’t spared from mining pollution. Typical KYC mining pollution involves the expulsion of heavy metals, which very few plants can withstand. So, this destroys both the soil and our vegetation.
Amazing Solutions to Mining Pollution
Thankfully, there are several viable solutions to mining pollution. Some of them are:
1. Proper waste disposal
The disposal of the chemicals miners use to separate the ore from the extracted materials should be appropriately taken care of. We should also ensure that no spillages could find their way to the atmosphere, land, or water bodies.
If anything, manufacturers should ensure that the containers are well sealed, and the content can only come out when sufficient force is applied.
2. Proper site inspection
Proper site inspection is also essential to ensure that cave-ins aren’t feasible during the period miners will spend in the mines. In addition, the administrative bodies of mines should provide adequate breathing devices to miners to ensure that they’re protected from the dust or other chemicals that could escape from the mines.
Afforestation is another way to ensure that mining pollution reduces drastically. Trees and plants are natural protectors, and they’ll stand between our water bodies and mines to ensure that the spillages that occur don’t make it to water bodies.
Afforestation is also excellent for replenishing our oxygen supply, and the more tree we have, the safer the air we take in becomes.
Many factors threaten to destroy the environment, and a major one is mining pollution. It affects not just humans but also wildlife and the environment. As such, it’s essential to consider the causes, effects, and possible solutions to this pandemic.