Technology is important for mining because it can be used to make the mines run deeper and make more money. Theoretically you could use technology to make the mines safer for the people working, but this is generally not what happens. The invention of underground portable breathing apparatuses made it so that miners could go into sections of the mine that had filled with toxic gas. They could be used so that miners could control fires and make repairs in sections of the mine that would have otherwise been too dangerous to send humans into. However, “…companies demanded that miners use the helmets merely so they could continue extracting ore in a toxic section of the mine. In an earlier age, these mines would have been abandoned, but with breathing machines, miners could continue to work in such dangerous underground environments.” (LeCain 47) The consequence of improving technology in this case is that companies can improve their production rates. They can keep mines running longer and deeper than they used to, and it makes them more productive.
Despite Lecain saying that early mining engineers felt that they could easily work technology into a harmony with the environment, the reality is that mining is pretty much always going to damage the environment and humans in some way. The methods of separating the metals from the unwanted byproducts use chemicals that must be ultimately disposed of somehow. To be profitable, mines need to produce as much product as they can in an amount of time. This means that they will push the limits of the environment and the human workers, and not consider what will come after.