Mining can be defined as the extraction of minerals or other geological materials from our earth. In the mining process, several resources can be recovered, including coal, metals, limestone, potash, clay and much more.
There are several different kinds of mines, including coal, iron and also diamond mines. Since our demand for all these goods increases at a steady rate, we have to increase our mining activities in order to provide these goods to our population.
Especially in the Western world, almost everybody has at least one car. Almost everybody goes on vacation several times a year. However, this lifestyle is not sustainable in the long run since we will run out of resources in the long run.
Not only the overall world consumption level is increasing, also on an individual level, consumption behaviors increases. This is especially true in developing countries. Many people now aspire to a similar consumption-extensive lifestyle as we do in the Western world.
However, this also means that the resource demand of many people also increases accordingly. This consumption behavior leads to more mining since in order to meet the demand, industries have to extract more resources out of our earth.
Technological progress is also positively correlated with more mining. With our nowadays technology, it is easier and more profitable to extract resources out of the ground compared to past centuries where mining was much more difficult since there were no machines and workers had to work quite hard in order to be able to extract resources.
Many resources extracted in mining processes are quite important for industrial purposes. Industries urgently need metals, oil and other resources to produce goods for our daily life in order to meet the demand of people.
You can find small amounts of gold in many electronic devices, including your computer. In our technological world, we rely on a sufficient supply of metals. Thus, since we need many different resources to be able to live our current lifestyle, we also need mining on a large scale.
As already mentioned, we need metals and other resources for many different purposes and products in our daily life. Moreover, there is a lack of substitutability for these resources, meaning that metals like gold cannot be replaced in an efficient manner by other resources.
Natural resources are a great economic factor for many countries. Especially for poor developing countries, the extraction of natural resources often is the biggest source of income. This means, in order to be able to supply enough basic goods for locals, these countries have to extract large amounts of resources out of the ground.
However, in many cases, people who work in the mines are just paid quite a low wage while mine owners usually make big profits. Mine owners often exploit the local workers since they know that the workers do not have an alternative and have to accept the bad working conditions.
This means that mining contributes to an increase in wealth for some, but not for many. However, since mining is an important source of income for countries and mine owners, it is still quite practical to sustain or even increase mining activities.
The worldwide prices for precious metals like gold and many other resources have increased significantly over the last decades. This makes it even more profitable to extract resources out of the ground since these resources can be sold for higher prices on the world market.
When mines collapse, the workers underground usually have low chances to survive since they will not have enough oxygen available and may also die from a lack of drinking water. Thus, working in mines can be quite dangerous and may even take your life.
Hearing damages are another quite common effect when it comes to working in mines. Some machines that are used for mining purposes can be quite loud. If the workers are not properly protected, they can suffer from severe hearing losses.
This problem is especially severe in countries with low safety standards. If the mine owners do not care about their employees, the workers are likely to lose their hearing capacities after a few years. Therefore, mining can also lead to hearing damages if workers are not protected properly.
For the extraction of certain materials like gold, in many countries, mercury or other extremely toxic substances are used. Workers often do this extraction process without wearing protection like gloves.
Mining can also contribute to the problem of cancer. People working in mines are especially at risk of lung cancer, since they often inhale toxic dust and other harmful gases which come as by-product in the mining process.
In developed countries, workers usually wear suitable protection measures against harmful substances. However, in many poor countries, safety and health standards are much lower and the mineworkers in these countries often suffer from lung issues.
This means that many areas that previously had been untouched by humans are now invaded for mining purposes. This invasion leads to biodiversity loss since many animals and plants lose their natural habitats.
They are forced to move or will even die since they are not able to adapt to the changed circumstances. Moreover, pollution from mining may further destroy their environments and also contaminate all kinds of life forms.
These erosions may in turn lead to a state where the eroded land is no longer suitable for human use like housing or farming since the soil is too unstable and poses too many dangers of further erosion.
Soil pollution is another issue that can be caused by mining activities. In the extraction process, large amounts of material are moved. This material, apart from the precious resources, may also contain harmful elements.
These elements are likely to be set free through the mining process and therefore may contaminate the surrounding soil. Moreover, if the waste products from mining are not treated and disposed of in an appropriate manner, they are likely to contaminate the soil as well.
There are several adverse effects of mining on animals. Since for the mining process, large areas of land have to be used, many animals will lose their natural habitat. This may force these animals to move.
If they do not find a new habitat, they may even die since they are usually quite sensitive to changes in their natural living conditions and may not be able to adjust fast enough. Moreover, animals may be contaminated by harmful by-products of mining.
Mining can also have severe adverse effects on plants. Plants usually require a certain pH-level to grow. This pH-level is often altered through mining activities. Thus, many plants will no longer grow efficiently and will lose their fertility which may lead to the local extinction of some plant species.
There are also some adverse effects of mining on aquatic life. Since many harmful by-products of mining often reach water bodies due to inappropriate disposal by mining companies, all kinds of water animals will suffer from toxic compounds.
Since we are at the top of the food chain, we will also be adversely affected by the adverse effects of mining on animals and plants since we are likely to consume them in later stages of the food cycle.
Mining also often leads to the deforestation of large areas. In order to meet the worldwide demand for resources, mining companies have to expand their territories which means turning forest land into land that can be mined.
Mining also indirectly contributes to global warming. For mining purposes, big machines that emit large amounts of harmful gases are frequently used. These gases also include greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane which contribute to global warming.
Moreover, since an increase in mining activities also implies an increase in deforestation, this also contributes to global warming since trees are natural storage spaces for greenhouse gases like CO2.
Moreover, some of the vegetation cover is likely to be destroyed due to mining practices. In areas that are close to the mining location, pH-levels are likely to be altered due to chemicals or other reactions.
One important measure against the potential adverse effects of mining on our environment is government regulation and restriction. Authorities have to make sure that mining is done in a responsible manner. This includes the protection of workers and also the protection of local wildlife and plants.
In some countries, there are already quite strict regulations related to mining practices. However, in many countries, especially in poor developing countries, there are often quite low safety standards in place. This has to be changed in order to mitigate the adverse effects related to mining.
Our excessive consumption levels also contribute to the problems caused by mining. In our daily life and in our society in general, everyone wants to have the newest smartphone, the hippest clothes and so on. However, this also implies that the old stuff is often thrown away even if it is still functional.
We have to make used goods be regarded as more valuable and not dodgy. Therefore, we have to change our value system and beliefs. Only then will it be possible to sustain lower consumption levels in an effective fashion.
By doing so, you can save resources and also ensure that resources are used more efficiently. Moreover, if you do not have people who want to use your old stuff, at least make sure that these old things can be recycled in an effective way. This implies separating your waste properly.
To protect the environmental system from the adverse effects of mining, states and governments have to install enough nature reserves so that animals and plants are protected from harmful human interventions.
Nature reserves are crucial for animals and plant species to reproduce since they provide and ensure their natural living conditions. Thus, nature reserves are another measure to mitigate the adverse effects of mining operations.
Education is another crucial measure against mining and its adverse effects on the environmental system. We have to show people how harmful mining can be to our planet. This education should start at a quite young age.
Mining is an important source to meet the demand for precious metals and other elements that are crucial for our daily life. However, mining also has severe negative effects on the environmental system, including humans, animals, plants and also aquatic life. In order to mitigate the adverse effects of mining, it is crucial that we reduce our consumption levels.
Industries only mine on large scale since our consumption levels lead to such high demand. If we reduce our consumption levels, the incentive for mining will also be reduced since resource prices are likely to drop.
Please note that all the information I provide on this website is to my best knowledge. However, I will not take any responsibility for incorrect information and will not be liable for any negative consequences that might occur due to the reliance on this information.