Mining—environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues
Mining—environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Mining—environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues
  • Mining
  • Environmental issues
  • Land disturbance and deforestation
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution issues
  • Contamination
  • Waste management
  • Subsidence
  • Flooding and water issues
  • Noise pollution
  • More...

Mining—environmental, health and safety (EHS) issues

Mining

Mining involves the extraction of minerals and other geological materials of value from the ground. These materials can include:

  1. metals and ores—such as copper, uranium and gold, and

  2. non-metals—such as coal, salt and gravel

There are a number of different mining techniques used, including:

  1. strip mining or open cast mining—which involves scraping (or using more intrusive methods such as exploding) away soil and rocks to reach minerals buried near the surface. This accounts for about 40% of the world's coal mines

  2. underground mining—where the minerals are extracted from deeper sources using a variety of methods including:

    1. room and pillar mines

    2. longwall mines

  3. in situ leach mining—where the targeted ore body is dissolved using chemical preparations and then pumped out, leaving minimal surface disturbances

  4. heap leaching—where metals, such as copper or uranium, are extracted from ore using chemical reactions that absorb certain minerals, and which are then re-separated after they have been removed from other materials in the earth. This process is similar to in situ leach mining, but in contrast to in situ leach mining, heap leaching uses a liner

In addition to the above techniques, there are also artisanal and small-scale mining activities being carried out globally (mainly in developing countries) and this refers to informal mining activities carried out using low technology or with minimal machinery.

Environmental issues

The environmental effects

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