Technology provided many different new advances that allowed us to go deeper into the ground, then ever imagined. The more complex the systems got, the more risk there was for a catastrophic event. Steam engines were used to pump ground water out of the tunnels, while large hoists were created to remove ore. Engineers had to develop complex ventilation systems that could sustain life miles underneath the surface. Engineers also designed the first oxygen masks that would allow miners to enter toxic areas of the mine for hours. As engineers designed new technologies that allowed us to go deeper, we entered a foreign world that was incapable of supporting life. If any of these systems failed it could have terrible effects as seen in the Speculator mine disaster that claimed the lives of 164 men in Butte, Montana.
If we want to continue mining material from the Earth’s crust, we need to consider a few things. Number one in my opinion is that it’s unfair for individuals to prosper from a mine and leave the mess behind for tax payers to pay for. Clearly, the mess needs to be cleaned up, I don’t think many people would argue with that. Unfortunately, the tax payers are going to have to pay to cleanup the old mines left behind, but I don’t think we should have to pay for future mine cleanups. I think there needs to be a system where the government does an inspection of a mine, and has the company requesting the mine, set aside the proper amount of money for the cleanup process. The government official should then constantly reinspect the mine to make sure the cleanup process is still under budget. I think mining is a terrible industry but sadly we have developed a world that relies on it and is needed.