Mine to Kill

Mining precious and base metals throughout American history has had a major impact on our industrialization and financial growth as a country. Although mining has always been practiced, it has not always been as technologically advanced as it is today. For instance, the means of measurements that we use today are much more precise than they once were. The adaptation of pumps into the mines was revolutionary. “Mining engineers created complex pumping, ventilation and cooling systems that made it possible for humans to survive and work in harsh underground environments” (LeCain, 37). Another major technological advance in the early American mining industry was the introduction of light into the mines by way of electricity. Without these advancements, we would not have been able to mine nearly as efficient as we could with them. A negative consequence of these technological advancements stems from the benefits of them, miners could go deeper and further underground, the further they ventured down the further they were away from medical assistance on the surface, and it would take longer and be more difficult for help to arrive to the miners.

Mining in general has been extremely detrimental to the environment. There are many present day situations where mining is being protested because of the impact it has on the local fisheries and ecosystems as a whole, it can completely demolish a fishery. Soil is contaminated as well as groundwater from the chemicals produced during the mining process. LeCain also mentioned sinkholes as a result of mines such as in the Butte area. I don’t think that mining as I interpret it and see it today can ever be completely safe for the environment. Carving out entire mount sides in pursuit of metals will never be safe for the local watersheds below or the ecosystem. I know that there will always be mining and that it still has a major impact on our industrialization and growth as a country, but the mining industry needs to have strict parameters and guidelines which they do today. Ground stability needs to be assessed before mining, as well as geographical location and how the local ecosystem could potentially be affected needs to be addressed. The levels of toxic chemicals need to be tested during mining, and post mining there needs to be a great effort put forth towards clean up and restoration of the landscape.

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