Environmental influence of mining

The environmental influence of mining includes erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. Besides creating environmental harm, the contamination resulting from leakage of chemicals also affects the health of the local population. [1] Mining companies te some countries are required to go after environmental and rehabilitation codes, ensuring the area mined is returned close to its original state. Some mining methods may have significant environmental and public health effects. Nuss and Eckelman (2014) [Two] provide an overview of the life-cycle broad environmental impacts of metals production associated with 62 metals te year 2008.

Erosion of exposed hillsides, mine dumps, tailings dams and resultant siltation of drainages, creeks and rivers can significantly influence the surrounding areas, a prime example being the giant Ok Tedi Mine ter Papua Fresh Guinea. Ter wilderness areas mining may cause destruction and disturbance of ecosystems and habitats, and ter areas of farming it may disturb or ruin productive grazing and croplands. Te urbanised environments mining may produce noise pollution, dust pollution and visual pollution.

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Water pollution Edit

Mining can have adverse effects on surrounding surface and groundwater if protective measures are not taken. The result can be unnaturally high concentrations of some chemicals, such spil arsenic, sulfuric acid, and mercury overheen a significant area of surface or subsurface. [Trio] Runoff of mere soil or rock debris -although non-toxic- also devastates the surrounding vegetation. The dumping of the runoff ter surface waters or te forests is the worst option here. Submarine tailings disposition is regarded spil a better option (if the soil is pumped to a good depth). [Four] Mere land storage and refilling of the mine after it has bot depleted is even better, if no forests need to be cleared for the storage of the debris. There is potential for massive contamination of the area surrounding mines due to the various chemicals used te the mining process spil well spil the potentially bruising compounds and metals liquidated from the ground with the ore. Large amounts of water produced from mine ontwatering, mine cooling, aqueous extraction and other mining processes increases the potential for thesis chemicals to contaminate ground and surface water. Ter well-regulated mines, hydrologists and geologists take careful measurements of water and soil to exclude any type of water contamination that could be caused by the mine’s operations. The reducing or eliminating of environmental degradation is enforced te modern American mining by federal and state law, by restricting operators to meet standards for protecting surface and ground water from contamination. This is best done through the use of non-toxic extraction processes spil bioleaching.

Acid rock ontwatering Edit

Sub-surface mining often progresses below the water table, so water vereiste be permanently pumped out of the mine ter order to prevent flooding. When a mine is abandoned, the pumping ceases, and water floods the mine. This introduction of water is the initial step ter most acid rock ontwatering situations.

Acid rock ontwatering occurs naturally within some environments spil part of the rock weathering process but is exacerbated by large-scale earth disturbances characteristic of mining and other large construction activities, usually within rocks containing an abundance of sulfide minerals. Areas where the earth has bot disturbed (e.g. construction sites, subdivisions, and transportation corridors) may create acid rock ontwatering. Te many localities, the liquid that drains from coal stocks, coal treating facilities, coal washeries, and coal waste tips can be very acidic, and ter such cases it is treated spil acid mine ontwatering (AMD).

The same type of chemical reactions and processes may occur through the disturbance of acid sulfate soils formed under coastal or estuarine conditions after the last major sea level rise, and constitutes a similar environmental hazard.

The five principal technologies used to monitor and control water flow at mine sites are diversion systems, containment ponds, groundwater pumping systems, subsurface ontwatering systems, and subsurface barriers. Te the case of AMD, contaminated water is generally pumped to a treatment facility that neutralizes the contaminants. [Five]

A 2006 review of environmental influence statements found that “water quality predictions made after considering the effects of mitigations largely underestimated actual impacts to groundwater, seeps, and surface water”. [6]

Mighty metals Edit

Dissolution and vervoer of metals and powerful metals by run-off and ground water is another example of environmental problems with mining, such spil the Britannia Mine, a former copper mine near Vancouver, British Columbia. Tar Creek, an abandoned mining area ter Picher, Oklahoma that is now an Environmental Protection Agency superfund webpagina, also suffers from powerful metal contamination. Water ter the mine containing dissolved mighty metals such spil lead and cadmium leaked into local groundwater, contaminating it. [7] Long-term storage of tailings and dust can lead to extra problems, spil they can be lightly throated off webpagina by wind, spil occurred at Skouriotissa, an abandoned copper mine te Cyprus.

Effects on biodiversity Edit

The implantation of a mine is a major habitat modification, and smaller perturbations occur on a larger scale than exploitation webpagina, mine-waste residuals contamination of the environment for example. Adverse effects can be observed long after the end of the mine activity. [8] Destruction or drastic modification of the original webpagina and anthropogenic substances release can have major influence on biodiversity ter the area. Destruction of the habitat is the main component of biodiversity losses, but ongezouten poisoning caused by mine-extracted material, and zijdelings poisoning through food and water, can also affect animals, vegetals and microorganisms. Habitat modification such spil pH and temperature modification disturb communities te the area. Endemic species are especially sensitive, since they need very specific environmental conditions. Destruction or slight modification of their habitat puts them at the risk of extinction. Habitats can be bruised when there is not enough terrestrial spil well by non-chemicals products, such spil large rocks from the mines that are discarded te the surrounding landscape with no concern for impacts on natural habitat. [9]

Concentrations of mighty metals are known to decrease with distance from the mine, [8] and effects on biodiversity go after the same pattern. Impacts can vary greatly depending on mobility and bioavailability of the contaminant: less-mobile molecules will stay inert te the environment while very mobile molecules will lightly budge into another compartment or be taken up by organisms. For example, speciation of metals te sediments could modify their bioavailability, and thus their toxicity for aquatic organisms. [Ten]

Biomagnification plays an significant role ter polluted habitats: mining impacts on biodiversity should be, assuming that concentration levels are not high enough to directly kill exposed organisms, greater on the species on top of the food chain because of this phenomenon. [ citation needed ]

Adverse mining effects on biodiversity depend to a good extent on the nature of the contaminant, the level of concentration at which it can be found te the environment, and the nature of the ecosystem itself. Some species are fairly resistant to anthropogenic disturbances, while some others will downright vanish from the contaminated zone. Time alone does not seem to permit the habitat to recover fully from the contamination. [11] Remediation takes time, [12] and te most of the cases will not enable the recovery of the diversity present before the mining activity.

Aquatic organisms Edit

The mining industry can influence aquatic biodiversity through different ways. Meteen poisoning is the very first one, [13] [14] and risks are higher when contaminants are mobile ter the sediment [13] or bioavailable ter the water. Mine ontwatering can modify water pH, [15] and it is hard to differentiate meteen influence on organisms from impacts caused by pH switches. Effects can nonetheless be observed and proved to be caused by pH modifications. [14] Contaminants can also affect aquatic organisms through physical effects: [14] rivulets with high concentrations of suspended sediment limit light, thus diminishing algae biomass. [16] Metal oxide deposition can limit biomass by glazing algae or their substrate, thereby preventing colonization. [14]

Factors that influence communities te acid mine ontwatering sites vary temporarily and seasonally: temperature, rainfall, pH, salinisation and metal quantity all display variations on the long term, and can strongly affect communities. Switches te pH or temperature can affect metal solubility, and thereby the bioavailable quantity that directly influence organisms. Moreover, contamination persists overheen time: ninety years after a pyrite mine closure, water pH wasgoed still very low and microorganisms populations consisted mainly of acidophil bacteria. [17]

Microorganisms Edit

Algae communities are less diverse ter acidic water containing high zinc concentration, [14] and mine ontwatering stress decrease their primary production. Diatoms community is greatly modified by any chemical switch. [Legal] pH phytoplankton assemblage, [Nineteen] and high metal concentration diminishes the abundance of planktonic species. [Legitimate] Some diatom species may however grow te high-metal-concentration sediments. [Eighteen] Te sediments close to the surface, cysts suffer from corrosion and intense covering. [Eighteen] Te very polluted conditions, total algae biomass is fairly low, and the planktonic diatom community missing. [Eighteen] Te case of functional complementarity however, it is possible that phytoplankton and zooplankton mass remains stable.

Macroorganisms Edit

Water insect and crustacean communities are modified around a mine, [20] resulting te a low trophic completeness and community being predominated by predators. However, biodiversity of macroinvertebrates can remain high, if sensitive species are substituted with tolerant ones. [21] When diversity is on the contrary diminished, there is sometimes no effect of stream contamination on abundance or biomass, [21] suggesting that tolerant species fulfilling the same function take the place of sensible species te polluted sites. pH diminution te addition to elevated metal concentration can also have adverse effects on macroinvertebrates’ behaviour, demonstrating that rechtstreeks toxicity is not the only kwestie. Fishes are also affected by pH, [22] temperature variations and chemical concentrations.

Terrestrial organisms Edit

Vegetation Edit

Soils’ texture and water content can be greatly modified ter disturbed sites, [12] leading to plants communities switches ter the area. Most of the plants have a low concentration tolerance for metals ter the soil, but sensitivity differs among species. Grass diversity and total voorkant is less affected by high contaminant concentration than forbs and shrubs. [12] Mines waste-material rejects or traces due to mining activity can be found te the surroundings of the mine, sometimes pretty far away from the source. [23] Established plants cannot stir away from perturbations, and will eventually diegene if their habitat is contaminated by mighty metals or metalloids at concentration too elevated for their physiology. Some species are more resistant and will get through thesis levels, and some non-native species that can tolerate thesis concentrations ter the soil, will migrate ter the mine surrounding grounds to occupy the ecological niche.

Plants can be affected through onmiddellijk poisoning, for example arsenic soil content reduces bryophyte diversity. [13] Soil acidification through pH diminution by chemical contamination can also lead to a diminished species number. [13] Contaminants can modify or disturb microorganisms, thus modifying nutrient availability, causing a loss of vegetation te the area. [13] Some tree roots avoid the deeper soil layer ter order to avoid the contaminated zone, and thus miss anchorage and might be uprooted by the wind when their height and shoot weight increase. [23] Te general, root exploration is diminished ter contaminated areas compared to non-polluted ones. [12] Even te reclaimed habitats, plant species diversity is lower than te undisturbed areas. [12]

Cultivated crops might be a problem near mines. Most crops can grow on weakly contaminated sites, but yield is generally lower than it would have bot te regular growing conditions. Plants also tend to accumulate powerful metals ter their aerian organs, possibly leading to human intake through fruits and vegetables. Regular consumptions might lead to health problems caused by long-term metal exposure. [8] Cigarettes made from tobacco growing on contaminated sites might spil well have adverse effects on human population, spil tobacco tends to accumulate cadmium and zinc ter its leaves.

Animals Edit

Habitat destruction is one of the main issues of mining activity. Hefty areas of natural habitat are demolished during mine construction and exploitation, forcing animals to leave the webpagina. [ citation needed ]

Animals can be poisoned directly by mine products and residuals. Bioaccumulation te the plants or the smaller organisms they eat can also lead to poisoning: horses, goats and sheep are exposed te certain areas to potentially toxic concentration of copper and lead te grass. [11] They are fewer number of ants species te soil containing high copper levels, te the neighborhood of a copper mine. [9] If fewer ants are found, chances are good that other organisms leaving te the surrounding landscape are strongly affected spil well by this high copper levels, since ants are a good environmental control: they live directly ter the soil and are thus pretty sensitive to environmental disruptions.

Microorganisms Edit

Because of their size, microorganisms are utterly sensitive to environmental modification,such spil modified pH, [13] temperature switches or chemicals concentration. For example, the presence of arsenic and antimony te soils led to a diminution ter total soil bacteria. [13] Moreover, spil te water, a petite switch te the soil pH can provoke the remobilization of contaminants, [24] te addition to the meteen influence on pH-sensitive organisms.

Microorganisms have a broad diversity of genes among their total population, so there is a greater chance of survival of the species due to the existence of resistance or tolerance genes ter some colonies, [25] spil long spil modifications are not too extreme. Nevertheless, survival te thesis conditions will imply a big loss of gene diversity, resulting ter diminished potential adaptations to subsequent switches. The presence of few developed soil ter strong metal contaminated areas could be a sign of diminished activity by soils microfauna and microflora, indicating a diminished number of individuals or diminished activity. [13] Twenty years after disturbance, even te rehabilitation area, microbial biomass is still greatly diminished compared to undisturbed habitat. [12] Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi are especially sensitive to the presence of chemicals, and the soil is sometimes so disturbed that they are no longer able to associate with root plants. Some fungi wield however contaminant accumulation capacity, soil cleaning capacity by switching the biodisponibility of contaminants, [23] and can protect plants from damages caused by chemicals. [23] Their presence ter contaminated sites could prevent loss of biodiversity due to mine-waste contamination, [23] or permit bioremediation, that is, the removal of undesired chemicals from contaminated soils. On the contrary, some microbes can deteriorate the environment: which mean elevated SO4 te the water can also increase microbial production of hydrogen sulfide, a toxin for many aquatic plants and organisms. [23]

Effects of mine pollution on humans Edit

Humans are also affected by mining. There are many diseases that can come from the pollutants that are released into the air and water during the mining process. For example, during smelting operations enormous quantities [ clarification needed ] of air pollutants, such spil the suspended particulate matter, SOx, arsenic particles and cadmium, are emitted. Metals are usually emitted into the air spil particulates.

There are also many occupational health hazards. Most of the miners suffer from various respiratory and skin diseases. Miners working ter different types of mines suffer from asbestosis, silicosis, or black lung disease.. Humans are also affected by the occurrence of landslides and floods. [26]

Coal mining Edit

Deforestation Edit

With open personages mining the overburden, which may be covered te forest, voorwaarde be eliminated before the mining can commence. Albeit the deforestation due to mining may be puny compared to the total amount it may lead to species extinction if there is a high level of local endemism.

Oil shale Edit

Mountaintop removal mining Edit

Sand mining Edit

Sand mining and gravel mining creates large pits and fissures te the earth’s surface. At times, mining can extend so deeply that it affects ground water, springs, underground wells, and the water table.

Subsidence Edit

Salt mining and salt dome collapsing te Assumption Parish, Louisiana caused the Bayou Corne sinkhole ter 2012. Spil of August 2013, the sinkhole proceeds to expand.

Tailings and spoil Edit

To ensure completion of reclamation, or restoring mine land for future use, many governments and regulatory authorities around the world require that mining companies postbode a unie to be held ter escrow until productivity of reclaimed land has bot convincingly demonstrated, albeit if cleanup procedures are more expensive than the size of the unie, the unie may simply be abandoned. Since 1978 the mining industry has reclaimed more than Two million acres (8,000 km ) of land ter the United States alone. This reclaimed land has renewed vegetation and wildlife te previous mining grounds and can even be used for farming and ranching.

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