Traditional mining methods cause severe damage to both the environment and our health; they release toxic materials into the earth’s soil and water which leads to deforestation and contamination. However, with the advent of new mining tools, regulation and legislation, significant efforts are being made to make mining more environmentally friendly. We’re going to explore those very efforts, as we pose the question: could mining ever become eco-friendly to the environment and our health?
Recycling Old Mining Materials
Mining affects the environment in a variety of ways, especially in its natural decaying and eroding processes, after a specific area has been mined. However, when these areas to be adequately excavated, mining companies would find some materials that could be reused productively.
One such organization that is pushing this green mining initiative is The World Resources Institute, who is currently conducting research on the most frequently used resources and materials throughout the mining process, to gain a greater understanding of how the industry could well conserve its current ‘non-renewable’ materials.
This shows that if the supervision of the manufacturing process of mining is successful, mining’s impact on the environment could well be lessened through the re-use of materials that would have previously been left to decay.
Implement Harsher Legislation & Regulations
Regulation obviously differs from country to country, but the main parallel that is seen across every nation is that the respective mandates aren’t harsh enough on their mining industry’s environmental impact.
Canada is and has been doing mine legislation right since the end of the last century. Thanks to its stringent mandates on the regulation of mines, when the Island Copper Mine in Vancouver closed in 1995, a detailed closure plan was developed to ensure that the few resources left were protected.
It is this kind of federal regulation that will not only protect environmental and public health, but that will improve the lifespan of the mining industry. The only issue is that the regulation needs to be enacted across more nations opposed to the few it currently occupies.
Close And Repurpose Sites Of Shut-Down Mines
Another element of mining which causes substantial damage to both the environment and the mass population’s health is when a closed mine is left to decompose without any kind of clean up procedure has taken place.
When the appropriate cleanup actions are not made when mine is decommissioned, it not only allows materials to rot and decay but also potentially enables illegal and unregulated mining activity to take place with the tools left behind, both of which cause damage to the environment.
One way in which this is currently being combatted is by certain mining companies hiring smaller decommissioning contractors to dissemble their mining plants and facilities for them. These groups then clean and sell off any remaining operational equipment and provided they are still structurally sound, repurpose the premises.
So, will mining ever become completely friendly to the environment and our health?
In short, yes, but unless sufficient efforts are made, not for a long time just yet, each of the world’s powers needs to put greater resources toward changing legislation to ensure that the mining companies who are damaging the environment are punished appropriately, to make a significant impact.