The mining sector is responsible for some of the worlds largest releases of heavy metals into the environment. Mining is the bases for severe and sometimes irreversible tolls on public health, water, air quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and community interests. A long list of environmental ills are attributed to the mining process. These include, but are not limited to:
Mining is an inherently invasive process that can contaminate soils over a landscape much larger than the mining site itself. Mining operations modify the surrounding landscape by exposing previously undisturbed earthen materials. “Erosion of exposed soils, extracted mineral ores, tailings, and fine material in waste rock piles can result in substantial sediment loading to surface waters and drainage ways”(Guidebook for Evaluating Mining Project EIAs). The inevitable spills and leaks of hazardous materials and the deposition of contaminated windblown dust will result in soil contamination.
An unsettling fact on lead and mercury emissions from mining:
Australia, Canada, and the United States, countries with some of the worlds leading environmental controls, have airborne emissions from metal mining and smelting totaling 980 metric tons of lead and 9 metric tons of mercury annually. These lead emissions amount to more than 80 percent of lead production in these countries (OKInternational).
Pollution controls can minimize exposure to workers and surrounding communities, but these safeguards are often absent in mining operations in developing countries.Unsafe mining practices around the world have been responsible for a continuing series of environmental and human health disasters, which cause great calamity and subvert social stability, economic development and sustainability goals. Mining is a issue for all, as it harms the earth which all citizens of the globe inhabit.
Added by: Mary Painter