The Golden Issue

Technological advances have made underground mining more thorough and invasive, and although miners were able to access previously deadly areas, the cost of the failure of equipment was much greater than before. That is to say that not only did mining become more efficient, it is much more capable of stripping the land of its resources and comes at greater capital and labor risks than previously. LeCain points out advances such as hydraulic mining allowed faster mining, square set timbering, steam powered pumps, steam powered ventilation, and artificial supplies of oxygen allowed miners to access underground areas that at one point would have been impossible to reach due to noxious gas, or being entirely underwater. The consequences of these advancements include over-mining, the mindset that mining engineers could repair whatever environmental damage they had caused, the necessity of greater capital, increased risk if equipment failed, more gendered views of nature and the hard sciences than before, and the creation of unions.

Quite frankly from everything I know about mining (which in all fairness is not a wealth), there is no real way to make it non-environmentally damaging before, during, or after as technology stands right now. The field itself is inherently parasitic, and the damage that has been done at some mines will have to be maintained indefinitely. That being said, I am optimistic that the advent of new mining technologies may contribute to the ability of mining engineers and environmental specialists to mitigate environmental damages. Human desire of resources mined constitutes that mining is not going anywhere any time soon, so I think it is imperative that mining becomes less hard on the environment even if incrementally over the lifespan of the field. Or, perhaps it is more fair to say, that mining becomes a less parasitic pursuit before ewe run out of resources to mine for.

5 thoughts on “The Golden Issue”

  1. In your second paragraph, you talk about the impact that mining has on environment and focusing that the impact will always be negative. I have done some research in this field and my father has first hand experience working with mines and the conclusions of my studies indicates that you are correct in the statement that it will always effect mining. Mining no matter what is changing the environment of that ecosystem because in order to extract material you need to remove the space from the ground. This includes taking out nitrogen which helps plants and trees grow and other essential natural chemicals in the soil. Also, recent developments in certain mining such as fracking has made us be able to discover more oil which will enable to allow unions to form due to the demand of labor. However, I don’t think unions forming will be a major problem because if new ways to extract oil because most oil workers A. get paid very well and B. work two weeks on and two weeks off.

  2. With all the technological advances in underground mining do you think there’s going to be more efficient ways of mining? Will we ever get to a point when the risk of equipment doesn’t even hardly happen at all. Or better yet the consequences of mining to the environment can be controlled. Like you said theres no way to make it non environmentally damaging but we can be optimistic in the way we approach new mining technologies. With all the resources we pull, we slowly kill the planet and should be considering a way of non damaging techniques. Overall great blog!

  3. I really agree with what you had to say in your second paragraph. Mining is entirely harmful to the planet and even with technologies that may harm the earth *less*, I don’t think it will ever be entirely unharmful. However, I don’t foresee humans stopping mining, so I hope that with new technologies will come out that will hurt the earth less, even if less is incrementally like you said. With that being said, the question of what is more efficient comes up. What can we do that will harm our earth less but still get us the resources we desire?

  4. Hey Shannon, great post! It’s strange, but I actually said nearly the same thing as you on my post. I think much like miners utilizing the increasing technology of the field, it’s easy to use science and technology as a crutch for our everyday lives, and to assume that we can have the utmost faith in the people behind the technology. However, this line of thinking is a violation of good judgement when it comes to something as fundamentally dangerous as mining. I think people still have to keep their guard up and understand that all the tech in the world can’t save them from any number of the things that can go wrong in something like mining. Not only do I think this reliance is a violation of proper judgement, I think it’s a violation of the original philosophical intent of science. The admittance of ignorance that Harari wrote of, if we put the same amount of faith in science as we do to religion, we undervalue the fact that science is a man-made disciplinary and will inevitably have man-made flaws.

  5. I really agree that mining does’t appear to be going anywhere as the demand for precious metals is just too great. Therefor, as mining will continue I like you agree that the goal should be minimizing the impact on the environment as much as possible. But I feel like this transition needs to happen sooner rather than later and if the innovation is not enough soon enough then environmental disasters will continue to come from mining all over the country and world. So my question is how long would you tolerate until mining is a basically harmless enterprise to the environment surrounding the mine’s location?

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