Mining for Trouble

I found this reading interesting because it tied together a few of the topics we have been exploring in the past few weeks. The first topic that comes to mind is that of technological fixes. In essence, what LeCain is describing when he talks about ventilation and fire suppression systems is a form of technical fix. Without the advance in these types of technologies, there is no way that human beings would be able to drill that deep into the earth. Another of the key points this week’s reading brings up is the idea that not all engineering projects are created equal. When dealing with environmental challenges, just like in the example of the “Trophic Cascade” we looked at earlier in the semester, environmental engineering is extremely difficult because all the parts are interconnected in some form or another. LeCain explained in his example of the fire: Certain safety precautions and procedures that had been put in place actually worked against the miners because the environmental engineers failed to take into account the whole picture of what was going on in the environment of the mine. “As mines began to sink thousands of feet below the surface, the problems of subterranean flooding, heat, and ventilation grew ever more challenging.” (LeCain Page 37) The error here was that this new and fancy ventilation system simply blew in all the poisonous carbon monoxide that ultimately aided in killing hundreds of miners.

The second question is interesting because it brings into consideration the topic of socio and political questions. If we say, for the purpose of argument, that mining is essential and it must be done somewhere, some living in a city such as New York, San Francisco or Chicago is likely to say, “Put it out in the middle of nowhere, like Montana. No one lives out there.” The issue of course is that, in the case of the Berkeley pit, lots of people do live there and they don’t want to deal with the negative consequences either. I think mining can and must be done safely however it is likely to cost mining companies a lot more money. Lots of the environmental challenges we are facing today might have been avoided if the mining companies of the past had been less greedy. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to, but often does, cost a lot and when considering the “bottom line,” it is easy to become greedy and complacent and make poor decisions that will impact our environment for years to come.

3 thoughts on “Mining for Trouble”

  1. I like how you tied the reading in to the topics we have been covering in class. I agree that the advances of mine technology work as a techno fix and like the readings earlier in the semester, they don’t always work. This is a great example of how the engineers fixed a small problem but failed to see the big picture. I do like your ideas for the second paragraph, however I disagree that mining can and must be done safely. I agree that it should be done safely however as you state, those costs are extremely hi. Current mining techniques still aren’t 100% safe and the costs are tremendous. If the costs to create a 100% safe mine are so hi, will it even be worth it for the mining companies? Even today we are finding consequences of some of the first mines in Montana and who knows how long we will have to deal with the clean-up.

  2. I liked your analysis of the content we read and think you have perfectly captured the real problem we are facing in the mining industry, that there are no real fixes and no real alternatives to mining in America. Though for the second part, you did not put a defined solution for these problems, understandable being that your main point is that it is a difficult issue, yet in your free time think of a way to persuade mining companies/communities to take action and prevent things like pollution or sinkholes from ever happening.

    your writing is getting better, love you.

  3. I agree with your opinion that mining can and must be done safely, not only for the health and safety of the miners, but also for the health of the environment. With all that goes on in the world today, I believe that mining in a necessity, and we as humans would face the consequences of stopping mining operations all together. That being said, I also think that it is crucial for companies to start thinking about other things that don’t involve profits. I like your choice of using “greedy” here when describing mining companies. I also see companies in the past as being greedy with their mining. Too much of the environment has been negatively effected by mining operations to justify companies not investing money into being more environmentally friendly.

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