Underground mining is a practice that has been heavily employed since the industrial revolution to provide the necessary metals and minerals to industry and to capitalize on subsequent economic gains. However, despite its contributions to the development and modernization of society and the economy, underground mining certainly has not, and will not, exist without trials and tribulations. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the majority of issues faced by mining companies were related to maximizing profits while providing a relatively safe environment for their miners. To overcome these issues, mining engineers employed a variety of tactics, such as meticulously surveying and mapping underground mines to maximize efficiency (pg. 43). Using pumps to either pump water out of flooded mines (pg. 40) or to pump fresh air into the mines (pg. 41) deep below the ground to provide working conditions to miners deep underground was also common. The usage of timber props and the development of square set timbering methods provided structural integrity to the mine shafts and prevented them from caving in (pg. 40). With the continuous development and implementation of these technological advancements, it became possible to maintain a working environment in the extreme conditions of underground mining.
There is no uniform method of addressing the negative impacts of mining. Each mine is unique in its own right, and the steps to mitigate environmental and human impacts from them should be developed and implemented on an individualized basis. I do not think that mining can ever be a ‘safe’ proposition, though I do believe that it is an extremely necessary component of today’s industrialized society. With the right surveying methods and correctly implemented containment and mitigation technologies, it can be less impactful than it has been historically. Mining companies should be responsible for this and held accountable for shifting the cost of mining to the people and the environment.