One major advance described is the steam-powered pump used at the Comstock Lode. Once the miners had dug deep enough, they reached the water table of the region and the mine was flooded with groundwater. By using an enormous pump, they would be able to continue mining deeper. This presents the problem of redirecting the natural flow of water. Certain areas could be more heavily eroded or flooded when they didn’t need to be. Another major advancement was the breathing machine, which involved carrying massive oxygen tanks and having either a mask or helmet over the miner’s face. Because of this device, miners were often sent into dangerous and toxic environments because they hypothetically should be fine. Many were not fine though. Many were injured and died. However, mining companies still sent people down into those areas because they were often rich in resources.
“In many cases, mines produce chemical and radiological hazards that persist for long periods of time, even indefinitely, after their closure (Sandlos, Keeling).” This is just one example of how mines leave nearby communities at risk. Another example is that of Butte, which has a history of people and things being swallowed up by the ground because of the massive network of abandoned mine shafts. This seems like something that would have been considered before mining began, and perhaps it was, but it should have been more effectively surveyed. All mining operations should be heavily examined before beginning to make sure that the future can be safe. It seems to me that mining rarely, if ever, has a positive impact on the environment. However, it’s hard to say if we should simply stop all mining given the huge advancements that it allows for society. Ideally a balance could be found between the two, but I can’t say how we would quantify such a balance.