Did you know, globally, individuals use an average of 16 kilos of resources extracted from the earth every day including metal, fossil energy, and minerals? Or, that if you live in the western world this number is even higher, up to 57 kilos of newly-mined minerals per day? With overall consumption on the rise, the race for resources is increasing rapidly.
Mining can have severe impacts on the environment, natural resources, and wildlife. Environmental issues can include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. Have you heard of The Iron Mountain? The Iron Mountain is a Californian mine that was shut down in 1963 but it will continue to pollute nearby waters for at least another 3000 years. Groundwater near the Iron Mountain has been found to be 10,000 times more acidic than battery acid. Reduction of overall consumption of goods is critical in slowing the degradation of our planet.
Facts on Mining:
- Production of mined metal commodities is expected to increase 250% by 2030.
- Most of this will originate from small and medium-sized mining operators, particularly in developing countries. Many of these small operations don’t have the proper technology or resources to provide efficient environmental safeguards.
- Metal mining utilizes 10-15% of all energy produced globally. The energy consumed in mining comes directly from fossil fuels.
- 90 billion tons of wastewater is produced annually from steel production. That is 13 tons for every person on the planet.
- Mining is the number one toxic polluter. It is responsible for 96% of all arsenic emissions and 76% of all lead emissions.
- Water tables in mining areas have been found to decline by as much as 300 meters.
- Extraction metals and other minerals are responsible for 20% of health impacts from air pollution and 26% of global carbon emissions.
- Coal mines are responsible for 6% of all methane released annually.
- The top 8 mining companies emitted 205.8 million tons of CO2 in 2016.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Reduce your overall consumption. This is the most critical aspect to reduce natural resource drain, and something you have control over. So take back your power, and reduce your consumption, buying products from companies that source sustainably.
- Recycle and Reuse products. Is it time for a new phone but your old one is still in good working condition – recycle, sell, or donate the phone to someone in need.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- One of the biggest ways we can improve mining regulations is by using our voice. Writing Congress and the EPA asking them to implement more environmental regulations, and improve legislation on mining.
- Increase awareness on scrap metal recycling programs in your community. On a larger scale, we can increase awareness companies to reuse large amounts of metal.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Support non-profits that are working to create higher transparency and increased regulations in the mining industry.
- Promote a circular economy. A circular economy is virtually waste-free, where products are constantly repaired and materials are almost always reused. As compared to today’s linear economy where raw materials are used to make products that ultimately end up being discarded into landfills.