Mining and its Environmental Impacts

Mining is by no means an easy feat. Countless people have died in mines since they were created. In most cases technological advances have helped to bring the casualty rate down, though people continue to die year after year. Back in the early 20th century, mining was beginning to become more and more efficient, especially in the Western United States. This is due to advances in mapping and measurements which allow for more accurate mining and better management of current mining operations. Some advances in technology include early life support systems for the mines, which allowed miners to work in some of the harshest environments more than a mile underground, (LeCain 38). These systems however, often failed in their infancy causing the deaths of many miners in various places. Typically the further down a person is when these systems go down, the lower the chance for survival.

Although mining has the benefit of extracting these precious metals, it is also catastrophic to the environment. The toxic chemicals it leeches from the slag piles as well as the dangerous open pits that often go forgotten. The sheer destruction of the landscape from open pit mining is also irreversible and often leads to nonprofits or other organizations stepping in to make these places somewhat inhabitable through making it a park or the like. One such example of a dangerous environmental impact would be how the ground in Butte has the constant potential to collapse due to the mines and has many potential investors worried, (LeCain 35). This is a danger the people of Butte have to live with constantly and will only get worse as the years go on. Another example of a severe environmental impact is the fact that Arsenic Trioxide being leeched from many closed mines, often from gold mining as the arsenopyrite ore has some gold in it, (Sandos and Kneeling). As many people know, Arsenic is incredibly toxic and deadly to humans and animals alike. It can be collected but has to be stored somewhere, and that is typically at the site they are taken from. Mining has numerous environmental impacts and many that can’t be undone, and it is the responsibility of the mine owners and government to clean up after these disasters.

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