The extraction of ores and minerals has been a profitable backup for the economies of all the countries which are rich in this kind of materials. In the recent years, there has been a betterment in the working conditions regarding the miners. In addition, there has been a refinement of the activities with the purpose of lessening their impact on the environment. Still, it is under great threat. Depending on the supervision and the restrictions observance on behalf of both the companies and the government, as well as the characteristics of the terrain and the types of the materials which are obtained, the negative influence on the nature can also vary. There may be deterioration in the quality of the aquatic basins around the mines or sedimentation. The adverse consequences will be experienced in the centuries to come after the termination of the activities of the respective facilities.
Despite their efforts to decrease its negative effect on the surrounding areas, the people involved in mining use equipment which is more sophisticated than ever before. This means that it enables greater extraction. What is worse is that the future looks bleak as the waste is also in its largest quantities so far.
Here are the kinds of mining activities with the most water pollution
- Water pollution is caused by heavy metals or their leaching. It happens when certain metals such as cobalt, lead, copper, arsenic, zinc or cadmium, which can enter the food chain and significantly affect our health, establish contact with the nearby liquids. Those which are subject to leaching are washed away and reach even farther destinations.
- Acid mine drainage is the thing which happens when the sulphides contained in some rock are exposed to air and generate H2SO4. If it is present in the liquid that we use for drinking or other activities, H2SO4 exercises a toxic harm on the aquatic creatures and cannot be removed easily. In the cases in which the concentration of acid in the water gets to a certain point, it causes the emergence of the proteobacteria Thiobacillus ferroxidans which, in turn, hastens the oxidation.
Provided there is exposure to air or aquatic resources, the leaching of sulphides will carry on. Hundred of years, even millennia may have to pass until they disappear from the local basins. However, the sulphides may also find their way to more distant rivers and lakes, making their condition poorer. The animals living there are damaged or killed off, and the people are prevented from the opportunity to use the aquatic basins as drinking or other useful resources.
- Processing chemicals pollution. It is triggered after certain chemicals ,which the mining companies use so as to divide the core and the minerals, such as sulphuric acid or cyanide, escape the mine and find their way to the closely situated aquatic areas. These toxic components are detrimental to both people and animals.
- Sedimentation and erosion. The mining activities are connected with various other processes. Infrastructure is necessary so as the mine to be reachable, pits are open for the purpose of extraction. This is not something which has no effect on the surrounding area. The soil and rocks are affected quite negatively. If there are appropriate supervision and prevention activities performed, the consequences may not be so serious. However, if not, the chemicals reach lakes and rivers and greatly diminish their quality. Riverbeds may be clogged by the sediment and the animal species and the vegetation may be deprived of access to oxygen.