Mining and Climate Change: Deciphering the Interrelation

Globally there is a huge demand for natural resources. This is the reason there are many mining industries working day and night to extract natural resources from the earth’s crust. The extraction of fossil fuels especially coal can hurt the environment. The pollution caused due to coal mining extraction causes air pollution as it produces many harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  Greenhouse gas includes carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrogen oxide, methane, etc. These gases get trapped in the atmosphere for several years leading to rising in global temperature.

The gases released from burning coal are considered the dirtiest air. This type of air is mainly found in mining, smelting industry and electricity generation, etc. these toxic fumes are harmful to both humans and the environment. In this article, we decipher the interrelation between mining and climate change

Mining: Impact of Mining and Climate Change

Mining can create a permanent scar on the environment by polluting drinking water, degrading soil fertility, polluting the atmosphere, and harming the flora and fauna. The abandoned mines as well as the modern mines hurt the environment.

  • The drinking water from lakes, ponds, well, and even the groundwater gets contaminated due to the mining of natural resources.
  • The majority of the watershed gets contaminated by the continuous running water from mine streams, metals, and acids.
  • The most affected are the people residing near the mine area. They are forced to leave their land because of pollution, making the area inhabitable for humans.
  • As a vast number of trees get cut down, deforestation affects the land condition creating sudden landslides. 
  • People, animals, and birds are forced to leave the area due to the leaking of poisonous acid in the area.

Types of Mining: Its Contribution to Mining and Climate Change

Mining is a significant process in the economy of a country, which offers several benefits such as extracting natural minerals and resources. The minerals are extracted in various ways such as follows:

Strip Mining:  It is a type of mining in which the top layer of the earth is stripped to extract the minerals and resources from the earth’s surface. This contaminates the soil, and water, and depletes the underground water causing climate change.

Open-pit Mining: In this type of mining the surfaces are scraped from the top keeping the land unfilled. This can affect the climate as it causes landslides and degrades the soil quality.

Mountaintop Removal: In this process, a large mass of soil is removed from the mountain top. This process involves explosives to extract resources from the mountain peak. Due to this, the land loosens up causing landslides and mass integration.

Dredging: This method of mining is done through drilling to extract minerals from the ocean surface. This too depletes the ecosystem by oil spilling and affects the aquatic flora and fauna. This disrupts the carbon cycle of aquatic animals.

High Wall Mining: In this technique, the minerals are recovered or extracted when the strip limit reaches the surface mining. This type of mining is operated remotely in a cabin. In this technique the fertile lands get eroded, soil quality depletes, and water bodies get polluted.

Smart Mining: Green Mining Initiative

With the growth of the mining business for extracting minerals to satisfy the growing demand, many private sectors and organizations will invest in resource-rich countries. The desire to get economic benefits and parallelly focus on clean and eco-friendly mining can be challenging. 

The idea of smart mining will help the developing countries benefit in a balanced way. The mining sectors will be designed in such a way that they will gain profit economically without any carbon footprint. In this initiative, modern technologies will be needed to eliminate the carbon emission from the supply chain. This is a practice that tries to create a balance in extracting minerals with clean and green techniques. Smart mining helps to minimize the negative impact caused by the mining business.

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