Cash, Copper, and Casualties

          Mining has made great advances over the years. What started as people panning for gold in the rivers of California has developed into a massive technical system powered by engineers. In the beginning underground mining was limited due to things such as flooding and ground collapses (LeCain, Pg. 40). The flooding was fixed by the introduction of pumps that cleared the water enough for workers to navigate the systems. The collapses were a trickery problem to fix. Then came Philip Deidesheimer who created a sort of skeleton type system to support the integrity of the mines instead of the wooden arches that were once common (LeCain, Pg. 40). It was made clear from the beginning that, unlike farmers, miners didn’t take much notice of the damage they inflected to the land or to the health hazards to their men. (LeCain, Pg. 43). Even though actions were taken to try to make the shafts as safe as possible. They still were not fool proof. The death percentage among workers was 1.2%, dramatically high compared to most other jobs, and that’s not even including those seriously injured. (LeCain, Pg. 46). The damage to the land and air was also drastic. Not only did mining change the view of the landscape, it also caused environmental damage from things such as smelter smoke and toxic water runoffs.
            It’s no doubt that mining does cause some serious issues, but I believe there is a way to address these issues. Before the mining takes place an environmental impact report should be done to see just how bad the damage would be. And after, it should be determined if the rewards outweigh the damages that will be done. Environmental reports should then be consistently done while the mine is in operation. And then once the mine is preparing to close, a plan should be put in place to find a way to eliminate or lower future issues. I don’t believe mining will ever be problematic free, but I believe if the right steps are taken, damages can be significantly lower.

3 thoughts on “Cash, Copper, and Casualties”

  1. Hi Connor,
    First off, I really enjoyed your analysis of LeCain and the different problems that come with mining, and those specific to Montana. Not only was the point about how death was a real problem in mines, but toxic water runoff and smelter smoke were both great points about how dangerous mining could be for the environment. I also thought your idea about environment impact reports and rewards vs. costs was an interesting take on how to solve some of the problems mining presents. With this being said; however, who do you purpose would take these responsibilities, the federal government? The mining companies themselves? Volunteer organizations? I think all of these could do a decent job of making reports about the mines, but the taxes that would come from a government organization, the integrity of companies policing themselves, and finding volunteers would all be difficult.

  2. I admire that you made an emphasis on mining’s overall impact on the environment. Highlighting the effects from previous mine disasters and leakages can help prevent new disasters and provide correct safety and health measures before any mining process starts. I agree that mining may never be able to solve the problem of effecting the environment, but those effects should be closely examined along with questioning starting a mining operation for purely monetary reasons because of climate change. In my opinion, the world is close enough to the breaking point of permanently effecting the environment, and contributing to the harm of the environment is not a good idea. I do not think mines should be under operation unless the mines are environmentally friendly, somehow, and also safe to the miners’ health.

  3. Great summary of LeCain’s main points, although I have a difficult time fully agreeing with the statement that farmers have always been aware of their impact on the environment as we know that until recently in history there were an abundance of famines that were solely related to a lack of understanding of rotating plots and keeping soil healthy. I definitely agree that while there will always be implications of mining that they can and should be dealt with and therefore made in to non-issues. However, your suggestion of weighing the rewards against possible damages is very subjective. Who determines whether the rewards outweigh the damages, who even determines what the damages are? In this capitalistic of a society and world I feel that there would be much debate over these premises and even more debate on who would ultimately be held responsible.

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