Tag Archives: mining

Effects of Mining on the Environment

This informative article was found at https://www.environment.co.za/mining/effects-of-mining.html – please follow the link to read the full article.

________________________

“Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health

Effects of Mining
Coal mining, the first step in the dirty lifecycle of coal, causes deforestation and releases toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil and water. The effects of mining coal persists for years after coal is removed.

Destruction and poison linger
Bad mining practices can ignite coal fires, which can burn for decades, release fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals. Furthermore mining releases coal mine methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Coal dust inhalation causes black lung disease among miners and those who live nearby, and mine accidents kill thousands every year. Coal mining displaces whole communities, forced off their land by expanding mines, coal fires, subsidence and contaminated water supplies.

There are two widely used ways of mining: strip mining and underground mining.

Strip mining
Strip mining (also known as open cast, mountaintop or surface mining) involves scraping away earth and rocks to get to coal buried near the surface. In many cases, mountains are literally blasted apart to reach thin coal seams within, leaving permanent scars on the landscape as a result.

Strip mining accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s coal mines but in some countries, such as Australia, open cast mines make up 80 percent of mines. Even though it’s highly destructive, industry often prefers strip mining as it requires less labour and yields more coal than underground mining.

Impacts of strip mining:
*Strip mining destroys landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mine when trees, plants, and topsoil are cleared from the mining area. This in turn leads to soil erosion and destruction of agricultural land.
*When rain washes the loosened top soil into streams, sediments pollute waterways. This can hurt fish and smother plant life downstream, and cause disfiguration of river channels and streams, which leads to flooding.
*There is an increased risk of chemical contamination of ground water when minerals in upturned earth seep into the water table, and watersheds are destroyed when disfigured land loses the water it once held.
*Strip mining causes dust and noise pollution when top soil is disrupted with heavy machinery and coal dust is created in mines.

The result of all this is barren land that stays contaminated long after a coal mine shuts down.

Although many countries require reclamation plans for coal mining sites, undoing all the environmental damages to water supplies, destroyed habitats, and poor air quality is a long and problematic task. This land disturbance is on a vast scale. In the US, between 1930 and 2000, coal mining altered about 2.4 million hectares [5.9 million acres] of natural landscape, most of it originally forest. Attempts to re-seed land destroyed by coal mining is difficult because the mining process has so thoroughly damaged the soil. For example, in Montana, replanting projects had a success rate of only 20-30 percent, while in some places in Colorado only 10 percent of oak aspen seedlings that were planted survived.

In China, coal mining has degraded the quality of land of an estimated 3.2 million hectares, according to a 2004 estimate. The overall restoration rate (the ratio of reclaimed land area to the total degraded land area) of mine wasteland was only about 10–12 percent.

Strip Mining - image sourced from article

Underground mining
The majority of the world’s coal is obtained through underground mines. While underground mining, which allows coal companies to extract deeper deposits of coal, is viewed as less destructive than strip mining, the effects of mining widespread damage to the environment. In room-and-pillar mines, columns of coal are left to support the ground above during the initial mining process, then they are often taken out and the mine is left to collapse, which is known as subsidence. In longwall mines, mechanical shearers strip the coal from the mines. Support structures that enable the shearers’ access to the mine are eventually removed, and the mine collapses. It is these effects of mining that nobody sees but are the most troubling of all.

Impacts of underground mining
*Underground mining causes huge amounts of waste earth and rock to be brought to the surface – waste that often becomes toxic when it comes into contact with air and water.
*It causes subsidence as mines collapse and the land above it starts to sink. This causes serious damage to buildings.
*It lowers the water table, changing the flow of groundwater and streams. In Germany for example, over 500 million cubic metres of water are pumped out of the ground every year. Only a small percentage of this is used by industry or local towns – the rest is wasted. What’s worse is that removing so much water creates a kind of funnel that drains water from an area much larger than the immediate coal-mining environment.
*Coal mining produces also greenhouse gas emissions.

Common health threats posed by coal mining:
*Pneumoconiosis, aka black lung disease or CWP, is caused when miners breathe in coal dust and carbon, which harden the lungs. Estimates show that 1,200 people in the US still die from black lung disease annually. The situation in developing countries is even worse.
*Cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease have been found in higher-than-normal rates among residents who live near coal mines, according to a 2001 US study.
*Toxic levels of arsenic, fluorine, mercury, and selenium are emitted by coal fires, entering the air and the food chain of those living nearby.
*Mine collapses and accidents kill thousands of workers around the world every year. Chinese coal mine accidents killed 4,700 people in 2006.”

___________________________________

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Preventing Repeated Accidents at Mines

Miningsafety.com posted this interesting article regarding preventing repeat accidents at our mines – take a read:

Preventing Repeated Accidents at Mines

“How do we prevent repeat accidents at our mines?

Mining companies spend millions on safety equipment and safety training. Despite all the training some accidents are unavoidable. It is however the occurrence of repeat accidents that remains a nightmare to safety and health officials. We would like to share a few ideas and suggestions on how to prevent repeat accidents.

Suggestions to prevent repeat accidents.

  •  Make safety a top priority. Talk about safety, conduct safety audits, and encourage suggestions from employees for improving safety.
  • Set a goal to eliminate repeat accidents. Make sure all of your employees—not just those involved in an accident—understand the causes of prior accidents and the steps they need to take to avoid a repeat.
  • Train as if their lives depended on it—because they do! Your employees’ safety on the job depends on their skills, knowledge, awareness, and judgment. Training strengthens and develops all these safety essentials.
  • Reinforce safe behavior. Get out there among your employees every day and praise those who are working safely. Talk to those who are taking risks and redirect them into following safe procedures. Consider retraining those whose performance indicates a lack of requisite safety skills or knowledge.
  • Don’t use discipline without also offering help. You may need to resort to discipline when coaching and counseling fail to correct unsafe behavior. But don’t discipline without also providing support and feedback about safe performance.
  • Emphasize hazard detection and reporting. Just because something was OK yesterday doesn’t mean it hasn’t become a hazard today. Keep alert and make sure your employees keep their eyes open, too.
  • Investigate every incident. Whether it was a near miss or an accident that caused injuries and damage, investigate until you find the cause and correct it.

Safety attitude is the key to a safe workplace. But it doesn’t happen overnight.

The message needs to be repeatedly reinforced preferably in a variety of ways and formats:

  • Supervisors needs to be visible and talk to employees
  • Take action on close calls
  • Follow procedures
  • Adhere and obey Legislation

[Content kindly provided my Moolmans Mining]”

______________________________________________

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Mining in South Africa

Mining has played a huge part in the growth and development of South Africa – take a look at what The Minerals Council has to say about it – click the link to read more about the different mining sectors – Gold, Coal, Platinum and Diamonds.

Mining in South Africa

MINING IN SA
Economic activity in modern-day South Africa has been centred on mining activities, their ancillary services and supplies. The country’s stock exchange in Johannesburg was established in 1887, a decade after the first diamonds were discovered on the banks of the Orange River, and almost simultaneously with the gold rush on the world-famous Witwatersrand.

In many ways, South Africa’s political, social and economic landscape has been dominated by mining, given that, for so many years, the sector has been the mainstay of the South African economy. Although gold, diamonds, platinum and coal are the most well-known among the minerals and metals mined, South Africa also hosts chrome, vanadium, titanium and a number of other lesser minerals.

KEY MINING FACTS:
*In 2017 the mining sector contributed R312 billion to the South African gross domestic product (GDP)
*A total of 464,667 people were employed in the mining sector in 2017
*Each person employed in the mining sector has up to nine indirect dependants
*The mining sector has, for many years, attracted valuable foreign direct investment to South Africa”

South African Mining Charter

Some news on the progress of the new South African Mining Charter.  Hope you enjoy the articles and have a great day!  Please follow the links to the source of the articles.

__________________________________________

South Africa aims to finalise mining charter in June, minister says – Mining.com
Reuters | May. 15, 2018, 11:18 AM |

“South Africa aims to finalise a third version of a hotly contested mining charter in June, mines minister Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday, later than the government had predicted last month.

The government and miners have been locked in difficult negotiations over the charter, which lays out requirements for black ownership levels and other targets, after the industry opposed revisions proposed by Mantashe’s predecessor.

Agreeing a new version of the charter is seen as instrumental to securing further investment in the mining sector, which new President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a priority.

“We aim to finalise and gazette the mining charter in June, having taken on board inputs and concerns from stakeholders across the country,” Mantashe said in a speech to parliament, a copy of which was distributed by the communications ministry.

Mantashe said in April that he aimed to finalise the charter by May.

South Africa’s mining industry has been grappling for years with depressed prices, outbursts of labour and social unrest and policy uncertainty.

The charter’s controversial areas included raising the target for black ownership to 30 percent from 26 percent.

The industry had challenged the revisions in court but put that judicial process on hold after Ramaphosa appointed Mantashe in February. When the charter is finalised, the industry will be legally required to follow its targets and regulations.”

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Dale Hudson)

__________________________________

Ramaphosa vows Mining Charter finalised ‘soon’ – Fin24
May 04 2018 07:56 Loni Prinsloo, Bloomberg

“New rules governing black ownership of South Africa’s mining industry will be completed “very soon”, President Cyril Ramaphosa said at a Japan-Africa trade forum in Johannesburg.

“The mining charter will be finalised very soon and we have set a deadline,” Ramaphosa said, without giving details of the timing.

Africa’s most-industrialised country will try to remove “blockages” to investment in a bid to attract as much as $100bn over the next five years, he said.”

Mining News

Below are some interesting articles regarding Anglo American’s commitment to sustainability and cleaning up mines…………..

_______________________________

Anglo commits to ambitious sustainability strategyhttp://www.miningweekly.com/article/anglo-commits-to-ambitious-sustainability-strategy-2018-03-14

BY: MARTIN CREAMER

“JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Diversified mining company Anglo American has outlined an innovative approach to three major areas of sustainability – the environment, community development, and driving greater trust and transparency across the mining industry.

Its ambitious goals include:

  • Creating five jobs off-site for every job on-site in its host communities;
  • Working with government to ensure every school in host communities performs amongst the top 20% of state schools in the country;
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30%;
  • Improving energy efficiency by 30%; and
  • Reducing freshwater abstraction by 50% in water-scarce regions.

“Delivering on these commitments will transform the way Anglo American does business,” said Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

Presenting a different picture of the future of mining, the sustainability strategy commits to keeping people and the environment safe, supporting excellent education and using collaborative regional development to provide sustainable benefits for host communities.

“The financial benefits to our business by 2030 are expected to be significant, including from substantially reduced energy and water costs. At the same time, we expect our innovative approach and the technologies we are developing to open up new mineral resource opportunities for us over the medium term,” Cutifani added.

The sustainability strategy acknowledges metals and minerals as precious ingredients that enable and celebrate many aspects of modern life.

“If Anglo American is to play its part in creating a sustainable future for the world and improving the lives of all of us who live here, then we must be prepared to challenge our business and ourselves, by re-imagining mining,” he said.

Anglo American’s sustainability strategy is part of FutureSmart Mining™, a blueprint for a safer, more sustainable and efficient business that is better harmonised with the needs of host communities.

This strategy, which has been developed following a robust consultation process, is in alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Mining News

Anglo says cleaning up mining will earn it billions in profithttp://www.miningweekly.com/article/anglo-says-cleaning-up-mining-will-earn-it-billions-in-profit-2018-03-14/rep_id:3650

BY: BLOOMBERG

“LONDON – Mining is a dirty business, but Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani says it doesn’t have to be.

The miner of everything from copper to diamonds to iron ore is overhauling its sustainability targets, and predicts it can earn an extra $9-billion through 2030 by improving the way it mines and boosting relations with governments and communities.

In an industry that rips up massive areas of pristine landscape while consuming valuable water and pumping out dust and pollution, companies that don’t become better corporate citizens will face higher costs, mounting opposition and lose out on new deposits, Cutifani said in an interview.

“We need access to resources,” he said. “If you don’t have good relationships you don’t get access to ground; if you don’t have access to ground you can’t develop a mine.”

Companies around the world are facing increased pressure to improve, and not just from ethical investors. Cutifani was among CEOs who received an open letter from BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink in January in which he called for companies to set out strategies for long-term, sustainable growth.

POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” Fink wrote.

Anglo’s nine new targets range from reducing freshwater usage by 50% and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, to less tangible goals such as improving accountability and policy advocacy.

The company will spend about $200-million a year on the sustainability goals, which also include health, education and livelihood programs, such as creating five jobs in a region where it operates for every direct employee.

Anglo has worked hard to reposition itself in the past decades. Once the corporate face of apartheid South Africa, the company was the country’s largest conglomerate and owned everything from banks to paper factories. In recent years, it’s managed to avoid the type of controversy that embroiled rivals like BHP Billiton and Vale, which had licences to a Brazilian iron-ore project stripped after a dam rupture that killed 19, or Rio Tinto, which is facing corruption and fraud probes related to African mines.

Yet things still go wrong. Just yesterday, the company halted some operations at its iron-ore mine in Brazil after a pipeline rupture. Anglo says it’s trying to identify the cause of the spill and guarantee that it did not inflict serious environmental damage to the surrounding area and a nearby water supply.

THERMAL COAL
Anglo also remains one of the world’s biggest producers of thermal coal, the dirtiest fuel, which has become a focus for many of the investors who are likely to be impressed by the company’s ambitious targets.

Anglo said during the depths of the last commodity slump in early 2016 that it would sell out of coal, but has reversed course after a dramatic rebound in prices. While production has fallen more than 20% in the past five years, including for steelmaking coal, the fuel was still the single biggest contributor to the company’s earnings last year, adding almost $3-billion.

“It’s an issue,” said Cutifani. “For many developing countries it remains an important source of energy. We will not be increasing our footprint, but you can’t just dump people who live and depend on thermal coal.””

________________

Trust you enjoyed the read. Regards, Chris

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.