Sweeping it under the rug

According to LeCain there are three techno-fixes that early mining engineers used for the problems that arose from mining, the transformational techo-1ix, the relocational techo-fix and the delaying techo-fix. LeCain’s argument with these three fixes however is that these “fixes” just creates another problem or ignores it altogether until a later time. His example of the Ducktown mine, The environment was getting ruined by all the sulfur dioxide gas but when discovered it could be turned into sulfuric acid and then sold to farmers across the world to be used in fertilizer, everyone thought that was the end of it. However, as LeCain states, “farmers applied more superphosphate to their land than was actually taken up by the plants” (LeCain p. 142). This excess of fertilizer to the land became concentrated in lakes and rivers which eventually led to eutrophication, where the fertilizer led to algae and bacteria absorbing the water of oxygen and cutting off most other aquatic life. With the other mine, Anaconda, the fix to the arsenic problem, the company sold arsenic to farmers in the south to use for pesticides, and also used on cite as a wood preservative. Both of those, LeCain argues, used all three of the techo-fixes, by either delaying the inevitable clean-up or moving the problem to somewhere else.

I believe that yes, we do need copper and these other valuable minerals. LeCain does have valid points about mining with his techno-fixes, but I wonder of the mining engineers back in these times were fully aware of the problems this would cause for the future. He claimed, in the writing, that many of the mining engineers loved and cherished the outdoors, so I believe that they wouldn’t do anything to change or jeopardize that which they love. So much knowledge has come from these crude mines, and yes they are most often bad for the environment but without a lot of these mines, technology probably would not have increased as fast as it has. The companies who either buy or still own these older mines do need to be held more accountable for the problems they have caused, but until we can find a way to either mine asteroids or even create the minerals needed, we will have to find safer ways to mine these precious minerals.

1 thought on “Sweeping it under the rug”

  1. The Smoky Mountain region was a beautiful ecosystem Lecain notes. But after we started mining the area the ecosystems became extpolluted. One of the biggest issues that faces mining engineers is how there techno-fixes will influence the environment. By fixing one problem they could be creating a even bigger problem or multiple problems, not only in that environment or region, but places that are hundreds of miles away. There is a interconnection between all systems in the world. With that said as a society there is a heavy need for materials that are only found through mineral mining. We need to balance the need these materials and protecting the environment, one way is focusing on making techno-fixes that are than just a “band-aid on a bullet hole”. Meaning that we need to address the issue with just moving or changing the problem and make it the futures engineers problem.

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