Mining and The Environment Essay examples

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Introduction In our days, mining for resources is inevitable. The resources we need are valuable in everyday life. Such resources mined up are coal, copper, gold, silver, and sand. However, mining poses environmental risks that can degrade the quality of soil and water, which can end up effecting us humans if not taken care of and many of the damages are irreversible once they have occurred. History and Case Studies of Mining and the Effects on the Environment Mines pose a threat to the environment. They can degrade soil and water quality if left untreated. The United States Environmental protection Agency (USEPA)'s Region 9 assessment of state data states that there are approximately 420,000 abandoned mines in the states of…show more content…
These left over tailings create human and ecological health problems that can be caused from exposure to the dust that are blown from these mine sites since metal toxicants can persist in tailing particles (arizona.edu, 2008). Another threat to the environment is acid mine drainage (also known as acid rock drainage). Acid mine drainage is "the outflow of acidic water from a mining site." This acid is formed by the oxidation of iron sulfide. The oxidation occurs when iron sulfide is exposed to the air or to dissolved oxygen in the water, which causes the iron to rust and the sulfur reacts with the water to forum sulfuric acid (Coil, D., McKittrick, E., and Higman, B., 2010). Figure 2 illustrates the sulfuric acid that is formed. Acid mine drainage is most common with hardrock mines where metal ore is bound together with sulfur. The increased acidity created from acid mine drainage has a series of negative effects, depending on the severity of change in the pH level. The acid mine drainage creates inhospitable environments to aquatic life in river systems and former mine sites, with the exception of "extremophile" bacteria (Coil, D., McKittrick, E., and Higman, B., 2010). Acid mine drainage can severely degrade the quality of the water, especially if it's a essential water supply. Solutions There are two primary methods of preventing acid mine drainage fall. One is preventing sulfuric acid from forming, and the other is neutralizing the acid after it forms. In
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