Dark Side of Those Copper Pipes

In LeCain’s “Between the Heavens and the Earth”, he discusses various technological advances that allowed for underground mining in addition to the consequences of this technology. As mines descended further into the earth, there was the issue of flooding, heating and ventilation underground (LeCain, pg. 37). In response to these major problems, there had to be technological solutions. One of these solutions was the steam pump, which was used to drain water in the deep hard-rock mines (LeCain. pg. 44). While these pumps enabled mining companies to continue to mine deeper and deeper into the earth, they also presented their own problems. In addition to the new steam-powered pneumatic rock drills, the air quality in the mines became detrimental to the miners’ health. This led to a lung disease called silicosis, which was caused by the clouds of silica dust produced by these new high powered drills. The ventilation systems in the mines, while mostly beneficial, also had problems. Most notably, in the 1917 Speculator mine disaster in Butte, the ventilation system helped fan the flames of the fire, as well as carry the carbon monoxide and smoke through the mine (LeCain, pg. 51).

I think negative aspects of mining can be managed at all parts of the mining process. Before beginning to mine, I think it’s important that the mining company be prepared to pay for cleanup that results from mining. During the mining process, negative aspects can be managed by practicing safe mining practices, and obeying all regulations. After the mine closes, I think it is especially important to conduct safe clean-up procedures, including safe storage practices of any hazardous materials. I’m not sure if mining can ever be a safe practice. This being said, I think it needs to become safer than it is now.

1 thought on “Dark Side of Those Copper Pipes”

  1. Good use of evidence throughout the text. In the first part you clearly highlight the benefits of technology within mines, but then cut right to the potential harmful effects of these innovations. I think its important to think about the possible ramifications that come along with a fix all invention. Its not smart to just mindlessly accept anything that happens just because we benefit from it, and you portray that in a good way throughout your blog. I also agree with you in the second part, mining companies should be prepared financially for the cleanup of their operations. I also believe that mining companies should be responsible for old mines left behind by them, even if was over a decade ago. Do you think that’s asking to much?

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