Environmental components include the following:

1. Air

2. Land

3. Water

4. Biodiversity


All mining methods affect the quality of air as unrefined materials are released to the surface when minerals deposits are exposed from the site. Mining requires soil to be removed and when that happens vegetation is also removed which eventually exposed the soil to weather, causing the particles to become airborne through road traffic and wind erosion. The unrefined particles can be composed of toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic. Such particles can adversely affect the health of humans, thus contributing to illness related to the respiratory system such as bronchitis emphysema. However, the particles can also be absorbed through the skin or ingested.


Mining can cause physical destruction to the surrounding land by creating landscape blots such as open pit and a pile of waste rocks. Such destruction can contribute to the deterioration of the area’s flora and fauna. There is also a huge possibility that many of the surface features that were present before mining activities cannot be replaced after the process has ended. Land scale declination caused by ground movement on the surface of the earth as a result of collapsing overlaying sheets can cause damage to roads and buildings.


Water pollution is also caused by mining and can include metal contamination, increased sediment level in streams, and acid mine damage. The source of water pollution as a result of mining can include processing plants, tailing ponds, underground mines, waste disposal areas, active or abandoned surface or haulage road. The sediments are most likely from the increased soil erosion causing siltation or the smothering of stream beds. Silification caused by mining after irrigation, swimming, fisheries, domestic water supply, and other uses of streams. Mining results in an unnaturally high concentration of chemicals such as mercury, arsenic, and sulphuric acid over a significant area surrounded by mine. Types of water pollution as a result of mining include Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) and dissolution or transportation of heavy metals by groundwater.


The effects of mining activities are observed after the mining process has ceased. The destruction or drastic modification of the pre-mined landscape can have an enormous impact on the biodiversity of that area. Mining is a significant threat to biodiversity as it leads to large massive habitat loss which affects micro and macro organisms, plants, and animals. Temperature and PH modification as a result of mining can disrupt the livelihood of the communities that live in proximity to the site. Endemic plants and animals are species most affected since they are very sensitive and they require specific environmental conditions, even the slightest disruption of their habitats can result in extinction or put them at high risk of being wiped out. The effects of mining on the biodiversity of an area are determined by the level of concentration extent, and the nature of the contaminant. There are species that are resistant to such disturbances while others are adversely affected to the extent of completely disappearing from the mining zone. A landscape affected by contaminants from the mining site can take a long time before they completely recover. Remediation does not offer any guarantee that the bio-diversity of the land will recover as they were before the mining activities. Aquatic organisms are also affected by the mining industry by direct poisoning.


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