Miners are at risk of developing a lung disease called pneumoconiosis due to their exposure to airborne breathable dust. This type of dust includes extra fine particles that people can inhale into lung tissue. Miners may also have a higher risk of dying from lung cancer. Metal mining provides us with essential materials for modern life.
But mining also devastates communities, water and the environment. Massive open pit mines are the most common type of industrial metallurgical mine. The Bingham Canyon mine in Rio Tinto, southwest of Salt Lake City, turned a mountain into a well almost a kilometer deep and 4 kilometers wide. Modern mines generate enormous amounts of waste.
For example, an average gold ring generates more than 20 tons of waste. It's not about if a mine will pollute, but about when and for how long. Copper mines (which account for 89% of U.S. copper production).
(US) discovered that 100% had oil pipeline spills, 92% did not control mine wastewater, and 28% had faults in tailings reservoirs that polluted drinking water, destroyed fish and wildlife habitat, damaged agricultural land and endangered public health. Mining exposes sulfides in rocks that react with water and air to form sulfuric acid. Once the process begins, it is impossible to stop it until the acid-generating material is exhausted, which can take thousands of years. Some Roman mines in Spain still drain acid.
Acid drainage can only be treated. The EPA estimates that 40% of the headwaters of western watersheds are contaminated by mining, and acid mine drainage is one of the main reasons. Since few countries have codified the principles of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), much of this gold was extracted coercively. For example, mining operations sometimes forcibly resettle entire communities.
Mining has also been linked to violence and human rights abuses, such as the funding of the decades-long conflict in the Congo and human rights abuses surrounding the Conga mine in Peru. While mining is inherently destructive, it can be less harmful to the environment and more respectful of communities. Nearly 150 years later, we know how to solve the problem. Organized community opposition can be one of the best tools for protecting communities and the environment from the negative impacts of mining.
In Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed, Alaska Natives, commercial fishermen, jewelers and investors fight to protect the world's largest wild salmon fishery from the proposed pebble mine. However, renewable energy and electric vehicle production require cobalt, nickel, lithium and other key minerals that are extracted from the ground. Unfortunately, mining is a dirty business with a long history of human rights violations and environmental destruction. By requiring responsibly sourced minerals, cleantech companies can accelerate our transition to renewable energy and push the mining industry to act cleaner.
To ensure that our clean energy economy is truly clean, fair and sustainable, we must develop a shared commitment to responsible mineral sourcing, recycling, material replacement and efficiency, along with a reduction in overall demand for energy and minerals. Mining should be the last place we look for sources of metals, not the first. IRMA is the world's most stringent standard for more responsible mining. It has developed voluntary and independently certified mining standards that will raise the social and environmental standards of mines around the world.
The participation of technology companies, electric vehicles and other companies in IRMA is essential, and of many major corporations, such as BMW, Daimler-Benz, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft and Tiffany %26 Co. The mining industry's parallel agreement threatens to shut down the government The EPA announced new plans to protect Bristol Bay, in Alaska, from the pebble mine. .