Mining engineers repeatedly used technology in different ways to “surpass the subterrestrial environmental barriers to human survival” (LeCain, 47). The achievement of modern mining engineering has been extraordinary, combining natural and technological systems. Many miners believed that they could fix the environmental problems that was connected with mining. But the readings show us that it indeed is an environmentally damaging process.
The technological advances allowed underground mining to occur by draining water in deep hard-rock mines with the help of big pumps (LeCain, 44). The pumps allowed the Butte miners to continue deeper into the earth, but this created problems. The air was bad or insufficient and it led to many miners suffering from the deadly lung disease silicosis. Another example that had consequences to the environment is ‘hydraulic mining’. This method had a negative impact on the Californian environment and it washed away thousands of acres of forests and soils.
Mining impacts long-term threats to the ecological and human health. There are about 500,000 abandoned mines in the US, and the treatment of these mines is difficult and expensive because the toxics at the mining sites can be impossible to treat. Just cleaning an abandoned mine causes as many problems as actual mining itself. The question is; can mining ever be safe to the humans and the environment? My answer is no. The operation of a mine causes harm to the environment, and the cleaning of an abandoned mining doubles this harm to the environment. Does it need to be safe for the environment and humans? It kind of does. If we keep harming the environment, we will not see a positive outcome of the environment in the long-run.