The Environmental Impact And Regulations Of Mining Activities

It is necessary to protect the environment and reduce or eliminate the negative effects that direct mining exploration activities could cause on natural resources and wildlife. That is why in this blog we will talk a little about the problem, the regulations and some analysis solutions that can considerably improve the methods for the care and protection of the environment.

As we know mining activity , like most of the activities that man performs for his subsistence, creates alterations in the natural environment before carrying out the activity, during or after the mining activity, from the most imperceptible to those that represent clear impacts on the environment in which they develop.

We currently have standards focused on the impact that a mining operation can produce, such is the case of NOM-120-SEMARNAT-2011 , which establishes the environmental protection specifications for direct mining exploration activities . Where they include a regulation of the composition of liquid discharges, dust emissions, noise, restitution of the landscape, etc., which are problematic to meet due to the cost they represent, but must be assumed to carry out mining.

How does mining activity impact the environment? Well, I will mention some points which I consider important.

Soils

We can find the following impacts

  • Variations in texture (porosity, permeability) due to sponge processes, compaction, particle deposition, crusting.
  • Loss of the edaphic structure by compaction, mixture of horizons, particle deposition, etc.
  • Variations in the soil water regime due to alterations in the water table and textural and structural variations.
  • Physical loss of soil by extraction and start-up, accumulation of discharges (debris and rafts) or infrastructure construction.
  • Heavy metal pollution (Cu, Pb, Cd, Hg, etc.), metalloids (As) and hydrocarbons generated by liquid and solid effluents.
  • Acidification by accumulation and oxidation of sulfides and acid drainage.
  • Addition of salts to the soil (sulfates).

Waters

Often in water we can find the following effects

  • Variation of the profile and layout of the river current, variations in the level of local base, alteration in the dynamics (variations in erosion / sedimentation rates).
  • Incorporation of solid particles in the stream, increased bottom and suspension load, increased sedimentation rates downstream.
  • Occupation of lakes, reservoirs, bays.
  • Variations in the water table, variations in the recharge regime and modifications in the underground flow due to barrier effects, induced drainage, infiltration, compaction, relief modification, deforestation.

 

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