The Pros And Cons Of Surface Mining Research Paper

Mining is the process of digging beneath surface of the earth and extracting minerals and other useful geological materials. There are two main categories that mines fall into; surface mines and underground mines. Surface mines are effective at extracting minerals and geological materials that are close to the surface of the earth while underground mines are designed to extract minerals and geological materials that are deep beneath the surface of the earth. One of the most common materials that are extracted from the earth by mining is coal.

Worldwide there are approximately 24,000 active coal mines. Mining is an important economic activity in both many more developed countries and many lesser developed countries. The process of mining has many advantages to the world but is also having a negative affect on the land cover of the Earth. Mining is occurring because of the desire and need for the minerals and geological materials that are being extracted. The products extracted from the mines are used in many ways and the world today would be very different if these mined products were not available.

The products extracted from are cannot be grown, are not found above the ground and cannot be produced using technology. Some examples of minerals and geological materials that are obtained by mining and an example of their use is gold and silver which are used to create jewelry and coal which is used to generate electricity. The minerals industry is one of Australia’s largest industries. Because of the abundance of jobs in the minerals industry many people are seeking employment in the mines. Australia exports minerals worldwide and the estimated value of all mineral exports between 2013 and 2014 was $164 billion.

Between 2013 and 2014 mineral exports accounted for 52 per cent of Australia’s total goods and services exports. As can be seen from the above figures, this industry having a positive impact on the economy of Australia. Despite the positive impact that mining is having on the economy, mining is having multiple negative impacts on the land cover of Australia and other countries that take part in mining. Underground mines and have little effect on the visible surface of the Earth. Underground mining is done when the desired mineral or geological material is deep beneath the surface of the earth.

Although this type of mining tends to be more aesthetically pleasing from above the ground there is still a large amount of damage being done beneath the ground. Underground mining is still causing the emission of toxic compounds into the air and any nearby water. Poorly built underground mines are occasionally found in lesser developed countries with less regulations around the construction of mines. These poorly constructed underground mines have the potential to collapse threatening any people inside the mine as well as any nearby communities.

During the process of surface mining the area to be mined is cleared of all vegetation. This destruction has a poor effect on the land cover of the area. Surface mining has led to large amounts of deforestation and the destruction of forests previously occupied by animal species. This destruction has occurred because of the need to clear the land to make room for the mine. In these cases it is unfortunate for the environment that it is often the mining and extraction of the minerals that take priority over the land.

When mining harmful radioactive elements and metallic dust may be exposed and pose a threat. Even after mines close down and are no longer in use, the harmful pollutants often remain in the soil and the rivers remain contaminated with heavy metals. This continues to have an impact on the growth of plant life and the land cover of the site for many years to follow. The Amazon is considered to be rich in mineral assets. Because of this, large scale mining projects have been put into place to extract these minerals.

Multiple mines have been built in the Amazon and each causing damage to the rainforest ecosystem. The construction of roads into and out of the mines has also caused destruction and land cover change of the Amazon and other locations that need to be protected. As a result of mining many streams in the Amazon are now experiencing reduced water flow and some have even dried up because of the larger quantity of sediment in the streams. The Super Pit is the largest open gold mine in Australia. The Super Pit is located in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

The pit began being dug in 1989 and the pit is currently 2,000ft deep and over two miles long. By 2021 the pit is planned to be 2,500ft deep. Pollution of the environment is also an issue with mining. One example of a pollutant used in the process of mining is mercury. Mercury is dangerous because it ends up in the atmosphere then back in the trees and in the water. When the water is contaminated with mercury and the fish that lived in this water are consumed, the high concentration of mercury in the water cause the risk of developing multiple health issues.

Underground coal mining is a danger as it has the potential to give off poisonous and explosive gases Solutions to the issues caused by mining include introducing more regulations that prevent mining from occurring in areas that require protection. The minerals industry in Australia is already spending over $184 million on restoring damage done to the land by mining. If similar efforts to rehabilitate the land disturbed by mining were made in other countries then the damage done by mining could be restored to some extent.