Mining adversly affects the hydrological regimes of the area being mined. Soil erosion caused by deforestation leads to siltation and sedimentation in the near by waterbodies. Other run-offs from the mines pollute the water and make it extremely unsafe for use.
eg: The Domodar River has become one of the most polluted rivers in India, thanks to the mining operations on the mineral-rich banks of the river.
Wastes are generated during extraction and
processing of minerals. The bigger the scale of
mining, the greater is the amount of waste
generated. And as this waste is of no use to the industry, it
is just stored within the mine lease area, or on public land.
On one hand, extraction (involving blasting) creates
large volumes of soil, debris and other material. On the
other, processing of ores to extract mineral generates
immense quantities of waste, as the amount of recoverable
metal in ores is generally just a small fraction of their total
mass. For example, only 0.00001 per cent (100,000th of
1 per cent) of gold ore is actually refined into gold.
Everything else is waste! And the lower the grades of
reserve, the greater are the wastes generated.
The various types of wastes include waste rock, tailing
waste, various salts (discharged during the chemical
treatment of the ore) and other wastes, like radioactive
wastes, and marble slurry.
Though most of these wastes are inert solid materials,
there are many toxic wastes as well. Some toxins are
inherently present in the ore (heavy
metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead,
zinc, and cadmium), and some are
added intentionally during extraction
and processing, such as adding
cyanide to extract gold.
These wastes and heavy metals
can leach out of stored waste piles
with wind and rainwater, and
contaminate the local environment.
For example, Uranium mining
generates large volumes of wastes that
contain a number of radioactive materials, which are
extremely harmful to human beings and animals. These
include Thorium-230, Radium-226, Radon-222 and
Pulonium-210. If left on the surface, this radioactive
sand can blow in the wind and get deposited on
vegetation miles away, entering the food chain. It
can also wash into lakes and rivers and contaminate
them. The outcome: deaths, fatal diseases, and longterm
Gauge the danger: In 2005-06, around 1,861 MT
of overburden and wastes were generated to
excavate only 750 MT of minerals!
Aditi now knows that the current mining practices
destroy environment and local livelihoods. But it is also
true that mining supports every industry, and pretty
much defines how we lead our lives… Remember how
excited Aditi was about finding the source of iron ore,
before she met Arvind Tuppo?
So is there no way Arvind’s life can be salvaged? Yes
there is, believes Aditi. The challenge lies in ensuring
that the pollution from mining is contained and
mitigated, and the health and well-being of local
communities are taken care of…
The challenge also lies in ensuring that mining does
not destroy the critical ecosystems. Like the forests by
the side of which Arvind once lived. After all, minerals
are essential, but they are not critical for human survival;
ecological areas and functions are.
Aditi’s appeal on behalf of her new friend is: Leave
the playground of the Arvinds across the country