Mining is one of the most important industries of the world and contributes a lot to the world’s economy. London, the capital of UK is home to some of the prominent mining companies of the world like Anglo American PLC, Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton, etc. American mining companies mostly specialize in non-metallic mining. Africa and Asia too produce a large amount of minerals in the world. Mining in most of the countries is done by major multi-national companies.
Environmental Impact of Mining
Though we all know that mining has gifted a lot for our easy living and luxurious lifestyle, but somewhere we forget the disastrous impact it causes on the environment. Most of the mining operations result in soil erosion, groundwater contamination, chemical leakage and forest logging.
It releases nitrogen oxide and sulphur di-oxide gases in the air. Acid drainage to nearby water resources pollutes the water therein, often used for drinking. Slag and industrial wastes are common, damaging the environment and living beings. The workers along with other people living in the area get affected by over-exposure of metals like asbestos, mercury, lead, silica and cadmium, often developing chronic illnesses.
Every type of mining involves risk and health hazards. Added to this, the industry is known to employ child labor, and the child employees thus develop many illnesses right from their childhood. Besides this, smelting and mining industries are also prone to accidents. Depending upon the mineral being mined, the risks and hazards can be even more serious.
Is Green Mining Feasible?
Considering the fact that mining is done to take out the limited resources from the earth, it is a no brainer to conclude that mining cannot be sustainable. However, if done in a responsible manner, much of the negative impact it causes on the environment can be minimized.
Most of the countries have detailed rules and regulations in place that are intended to minimize the risk of pollution, accidents and health hazards. There are several non-profit organizations as well working in this direction. However, the objective cannot be achieved unless the mining companies take social responsibility and follow the rules in spirit.
Of late, there has been a shift in attitude of the mining infrastructure industry. Big players like Ausenco have come up with environmentally responsible solutions like site characterization, impact assessment, erosion and sediment control, site remediation, waste management, restoration and efficient mineral processing.
There are few common things all mining companies can follow in order to reduce the environmental impact. For example, planting trees on quarries after the mining is done is a great way to make up for the damage. Use of latest, innovative technologies instead of traditional equipment like smelters also help a great deal in reducing pollution. Similarly, dumping waste in water sources should be avoided to the extent possible.