Mining: It is defined as a process that includes the extraction of useful natural resources from the earth. The natural resources are minerals, rocks, precious stones, fossil fuels, etc.
Mining Activities: Mining is not a new process but it has been carried out since prehistoric times. The mining process is used for extracting gold, iron, coal, natural gas, oil, etc.
Chemical Agents: The most common chemical agents used in mining activities are sulfuric acid, cyanide, etc. These chemicals are used to separate desired substances from the ore.
Mining Pollution: It is a type of pollution that occurs due to mining activities. It involves the spillage, leakage, leachate of hazardous chemical substances into water bodies from mining sites.
CAUSES OF MINING POLLUTION
There are many causes of mining pollution. The economy of the world is standing on mining activities. The disturbance of land causes land, air, and water pollution.
1. Economic Importance: Extraction of valuable minerals have economic importance. Tundra regions are mined for precious minerals.
2. Fossil Fuels: Fossil fuel extraction is one of the biggest reasons behind mining pollution. Natural reserves such as coal, gas, and oil are being overexploited leading to mining pollution.
3. Industrialization: Industrialization has led to mining pollution. The fast-growing mining industry is providing people with job opportunities.
4. Urbanization: Urban sprawl is linked with mining pollution. The housing schemes/settlements are contributing to mining pollution.
5. Increasing Human Population: The increasing human population is putting stress on natural reserves. This is leading to overexploitation of natural resources.
EFFECTS OF MINING POLLUTION
Mining pollution has disastrous impacts on living beings and the ecosystem. Effects of mining pollution are listed below.
1. Deforestation: Forest cover is cleared for mining activities. Vegetation is removed for extracting valuable substances in the ground.
2. Increased Soil Erosion: Mining activities make land vulnerable to soil erosion. The land is degraded by waste being generated from the mining process.
3. Water Pollution: Runoff from mining sites causes water pollution. Deep-sea mining is also linked with marine pollution.
5. Desertification: Clearing lands and cutting trees for the mining process turn productive soil into barren lands.
6. Human Health: Mining pollution has serious consequences on human health. It causes respiratory problems in humans.
Also check out: What is a Healthy Environment? Why is it important?
SOLUTIONS TO MINING POLLUTION
It is crucial to take effective measures in order to prevent the impacts of mining pollution. Solution to mining pollution are mentioned below.
1. Bioremediation: There are different types of bioremediation techniques that can be used to clean sites that are contaminated by mining pollution.
2. Adequate Waste Management Practices: The waste produced from mining activities must be managed and disposed off properly in order to prevent mining pollution.
3. Afforestation/ Reforestation: Planting trees can help reduce subsequent outcomes of mining pollution such as soil erosion, desertification, etc.
4. Alternative Energy Sources: Alternative energy sources must be used to avoid air pollution happening due to the extraction of fossil fuels. For more info: What Are Renewable Energy Sources? – Types of Green Energy.
5. Mine Reclamation: It is an important solution to mining pollution. The mining companies should be liable for mine reclamation.
Mining activities have adverse impacts on humans, animals, plants, and on the entire ecosystem. The chemicals used in mining activities have other negative impacts besides mining pollution. People who are working in mines have occupational health and safety issues. The environmental pollution due to mining activities must be prevented. There should be strict implementation of laws and regulations regarding mining activities. Violations of laws should be penalized.
Also check out: Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification of Toxic Chemicals
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