Primer on Mining and the Environment

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

Mine workers and their families are among the first to feel the impact of poorly designed mines. Over the years, labour activism has been the most important force in improving the safety of the mine environment.

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

One of the most important directions for reducing environmental impacts of mining is to increase "mineral efficiency". In the long term, it is our responsibility as a society to reduce our consumption of (virgin) metals, to make fullest use of the very recyclable properties of metals, and to reduce the massive inputs of energy and water necessary to process minerals.

Mineral efficiency means:

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

Water is essential to life on our planet. A prerequisite of sustainable development must be to ensure uncontaminated streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

The most extreme environmental impacts of mining occur in and around mines, yet the impacts may begin well ahead of any real production. The cumulative impacts of exploration can be extensive. The mining industry suggests that the ratio of exploration programs to successful mines is 1,000:1. Clearly, this means considerable human activity, machinery and fuel being transported into a broad area of backcountry by road or by air.

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

An actual mine site is just one point in a long line of activity before and after the digging starts. It is also at the centre of a geographical web of transportation routes (roads/barges/air access routes), energy infrastructure (dams/ power lines), tailings ponds, waste rock piles, and processing plants.

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

More than any other human activity, mining has been the impetus for industrial development of wilderness areas in British Columbia. Some of the most immediate and extreme impacts of mineral development are felt by wildlife.

At the exploration stage, impacts range from habitat disruption through road construction and attendant hunting and poaching to pollution impacts from abandoned fuel.

Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

Industry, labour, government, and environmentalists agree on one issue: that Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is the number one environmental problem facing the mining industry. Acid Mine Drainage:

  • devastates fish and aquatic habitat,
  • is virtually impossible to reverse with existing technology, and
  • once started, costs millions of dollars annually to treat and can continue for centuries.
Viernes, Marzo 31, 2006

Canada is a major source of mineral investment worldwide. In 1996, Canadian mining companies raised over $7 billion for domestic and foreign mining projects on the Canadian securities markets. This figure represents almost 50% of the world's exploration dollars.

Jueves, Marzo 30, 2006

Some of the most significant direct and indirect impacts of mining result from the construction of exploration and mining roads.

Roads and unlimited access have a negative impact on wilderness areas in four ways:

Jueves, Junio 23, 2005
Indigenous communities can also participate in an on-going process of negotiating land claims or "modern treaties." The comprehensive claims process defines the land base owned by an Aboriginal group and how jurisdictional decision-making and control over resources between levels of government will be divided or co-managed. Land claims agreements often also include a significant cash settlement ...