Mankind has been mining for precious metals since 42000 years ago and that’s a staggeringly long time ago and that’s exactly how long our species has been digging into the ground, to harvest its precious metals. Today, mining is one of the top industries, hiring more than 3.7 million workers worldwide (going by statistic s from 2011). This only underscores the fact that our desire for precious metals and minerals has grown thousand fold since we first started digging through the permafrost to get at raw and valuable metals. But Mining comes with its own drawbacks, not to mention the fact that it has a direct correlation to environmental pollution. This is why it is time we examined the positive and negative effects of mining as an activity and took a closer look at it, in the process.
Positive impact of mining:
Economy: Mining is one of the top verticals and as such, this sector provides the local economy with much-needed jobs and capital; in fact, several economies around the world solely depended on mining alone and some, like Saudi Arabia, still do. Saudi Arabia’s economy is built around its vast reservoirs of petroleum-based products and as a result, its economy is both vibrant and strong.
Infrastructure: It is thanks to mining that we are able to source crucial minerals and precious metals like silver, gold for utilization in various industries across the board. These metals are essential for the seamless functioning of our society as a whole; in fact to claim that our society depends on our ability to source precious metals and to use the same to rebuild our nation would not be an exaggeration.
Negative impact of Mining:
Environmental pollution: Mining comes with its own baggage starting with environmental degradation and pollution. Since mining involves the use of toxic substances in processing the raw minerals, the same result in the poisoning of the top layers of the soil. This is why nothing much grows near where mines are located; since the topsoil has been exposed to toxic substances, it becomes next to impossible to grow anything on it. Apart from this, most of the spill off’s from the mine often affect and pollute local water bodies, thereby making the same undrinkable. This has a direct effect on the local population and causes them to experience more hardship.
Global warming: While there is no correlative proof to link up mining with global warming, it still happens to be the only process through which we can obtain fossil fuels. And since fossil fuels contribute to global warming, one can make the claim that mining as an activity has contributed, even though indirectly, to global warming.
Health impact: Most of the mines are dark, damp and not that well ventilated to start off with; as a result, most of the miners develop severe health issues as a result of working thousands of feet below sea level. Depending on the end product, the health issues can vary – for example, mines digging for coal have long been known to have compromised lungs, as a result of inhaling all that coal dust. It should also be pointed out that the average lifespan of a miner is quite low.
These are some of the positive and negative effects of mining and even though it has more cons listed against it, the fact remains that mining is one of the few activities that our society cannot do without. Whether you are mining for fossil fuels or for gas/oil, or something else altogether, then you may want to take better care of yourself when down in the mine. Most of the mining companies make sure that their employees are well cared for; they well understand the risks, associated with this activity which is why most of the miners earn much more than others.
While all our activity seems to be built around precious metals like silver and gold – it is only a matter of time before we start digging through the terrain for something more precious. So the next time you wear something precious around your neck, you may want to consider its origin, location and how it was formed.
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