Mining: A Great Thing At An Even Greater Cost

Technological advancements in the mining industry have definitely helped the industrial powers and mass progress of the United States, providing new, effective, and efficient ways to keep the country powered. With any advancement comes gratitude for the greater good it gives, but also backlash for ultimate repercussions that follow. Hard-rock mining was a technological advancement that gave an abundance of silver, gold, and copper to human use. This mining method lead to another technological advancement – the largest pumps and blowers available in the United States to allow employees of mining companies to breathe air that wasn’t scolding hot (p. 41). Following the hard-rock mining progression, there were more problems that arose – the geographic setting meant that water needed to be drained from these deposits, which meant even hotter conditions for human employees and lead to even more advanced breathing machines (p. 44). See the pattern here? The consequences of these technologies, I think, laid out a technology versus human notion. There were benefits to these advancements for society at the cost of a very small portion of society – the workers who endeavored the conditions that ultimately disrupted their health.


After reading LeCain, Sandos, and Keeling’s work, I think the negative aspects of mining should be addressed at all points of the mining process, but for what? Honestly, there seems to be no method of mining that doesn’t cause harm to the environment or humankind. I don’t think that mining could be safe, as Sandos and Keeling said: “The message here is one of hope: that modern technology and no small dose of creativity can allow us to meet the raw material needs of industrial society without bringing ecological ruin to the landscape.”  As hopeful as we can be, there is clearly much at ruin with this method of extracting resources for our use.

1 thought on “Mining: A Great Thing At An Even Greater Cost”

  1. Hi Alexia!

    Your response was spot on. The positive feedback loop of our ability to mine farther and deeper leading to equipment advancements is an incredible one. It all just keeps going, even today. I agree with the fact that mining just doesn’t seem like it could ever be a clean and healthy option for us and our environment. I also think it is unrealistic to stop all mining. As a society, we have become way too dependent on these metals to the point of not being able to function without. Especially, if we want to be more environmentally friendly in other areas, such as solar, we need to mine certain minerals. There is a line and we need to find it. In the meantime, we just need to be a friendly to our homes as possible.

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