While technological improvements and stricter safety regulations have reduced coal mining related deaths, accidents are still too common, which produces more than one-third of annual global coal output, accounts for more than two-thirds of mining deaths around the world each year. Mining-Technology profiles major coal mine disasters around the world like in China  etc.

People are digging into their jewelry box to find gold to sell and others are panning for gold, hoping to find that giant nugget. Extraction of substantial amounts of gold requires mining for it beneath the Earth's surface. Gold is a precious metal used around the world in jewelry, electronics and even dentistry. Mining for gold has some negative effects, including erosion, the use of cyanide, loss of biodiversity and disruption of indigenous communities. Concerns about the hazards of gold mining sometimes refer to that shiny metal as dirty gold.In the gold mining process, land must be cleared for mining. Clear-cutting trees disrupts local ecosystems, causing animals to flee the area or perish. Also, when the chemicals used in gold mining make their way into the soil and the water, they disrupt the local wildlife by poisoning their sources of food and water. Often, toxic chemicals used in gold mining is simply dumped into local ponds.In many remote parts of the world, indigenous communities still exist and gold mining may disrupt their lives. Large gold mining companies will often secure land deals from the local governments. During this process they eject, often violently, the local indigenous population. Governments in these regions have been known to kill indigenous people for refusing to leave areas that have been sold to gold mining companies. Modern industrial gold mining destroys landscapes and creates huge amounts of toxic waste. Due to the use of dirty practices such as open pit mining and cyanide heap leaching, mining companies generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every 0.333-ounce gold ring. The waste, usually a gray liquid sludge, is laden with deadly cyanide and toxic heavy metals. Many gold mines dump their toxic waste directly into natural water bodies. The Lihir gold mine in Papua New Guinea dumps over 5 million tons of toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean each year, destroying corals and other ocean life. Companies mining for gold and other metals in total dump at least 180 million tons of toxic waste into rivers, lakes, and oceans each year more than 1.5 times the waste that U.S. cities send to landfills on a yearly basis. To limit the environmental damage, mines often construct dams and place the toxic waste inside. But these dams do not necessarily prevent contamination of the surrounding environment. Toxic waste can easily seep into soil and groundwater, or be released in catastrophic spills. At the world’s estimated 3,500 dams built to hold mine waste, one or two major spills occur every year.Toxic waste spills have had devastating consequences in Romania, China, Ghana, Russia, Peru, South Africa, and other countries. Dirty gold mining often leads to a persistent problem known as acid mine drainage. The problem results when underground rock disturbed by mining is newly exposed to air and water. Iron sulfides (often called “fool’s gold”) in the rock can react with oxygen to form sulfuric acid. Acidic water draining from mine sites can be 20 to 300 times more concentrated than acid rain, and it is toxic to living organisms. The dangers increase when this acidic water runs over rocks and strips out other embedded heavy metals. Rivers and streams can become contaminated with metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, and iron. Cadmium has been linked to liver disease, while arsenic can cause skin cancer and tumors. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities and impaired development in children. Iron is less dangerous, although it gives rivers and streams a slimy orange coating and the smell of rotten eggs.Once acid mine drainage starts, it is difficult to stop. Acidic waters flowing from abandoned mines can raise acidity levels and destroy aquatic life for generations. Roman mining sites in England are still causing acid mine drainage more than 2000 years later.

Any fatal accident is definitely a tragedy, and if one occurs in mines, as in other fields with a high level of inherent occupational hazard risks, then it can become seriously eye-opening for those in the industry, as well as for outsiders. We now look through a list of the most heart-wrenching accidents that have happened in various mines worldwide through the years. Brazilian Mining Disaster Leaves Dozens Dead, Hundreds Missing After Waste Dam Collapses.

Erosion is when solid deposits are weathered over a period of time and moved from their natural spot to a new destination. Erosion occurs naturally in the wild but can also occur as a negative effect of gold mining. The mining process moves large amounts of earth to extract small amounts of gold. Excessive amounts of gold mining can wash away soil into nearby rivers as well as strip an area of soil altogether. Serious erosion can also strip an area of its ability to support agriculture.The effect of this small-scale mining on the environment is devastating. These small, artisanal mining crews do not set out expecting to hit seams rich with gold, but instead collect up the tiny gold flakes scattered throughout the rainforest. Their modus operandi is to clear the land of trees or dredge the river sediment, and then use mercury to extract the precious metal out of the dirt. This trail of destruction leaves the landscape devoid of most vegetation, with the toxic mercury having a catastrophic effect on any remaining plant and animal life. "There's enough gold in the landscape to make a great deal of money in a struggling economy.Toxic sodium cyanide has been used in gold mining since 1887, and it remains the primary reagent in use for gold processing today because it allows for efficient extraction of gold from low-grade ore.Such resistance is a major problem for miners that must, now more than ever, secure a social licence to mine or risk years of political wrangling and public backlash, resulting in costly delays. Cyanide is acutely toxic to humans, other mammals and aquatic species at relatively low dosages, as it interferes with oxygen utilisation. However, cyanide is not carcinogenic and does not bioaccumulate – build up within the tissues of organisms – and a non-lethal dose is metabolised in the body. Cyanide is used in the majority of gold processing operations simply because it is cheap and effective.Others chemicals such as disulphide are not as effective and do not work on as many ores.They are also generally more expensive and often take longer to process, need a bigger processing plant and often don’t remove the environmental risk.The chemical cyanide is used in the extraction of gold from ore. It is very toxic to humans and animals. When the chemical enters the body, it suppresses the central nervous system causing respiratory failure and death. The cyanide used in gold mining can get into the soil, and through the process of erosion, can make its way into lakes and streams. Fish and waterfoul are adversely impacted by polluted bodies of water. This in turn can pollute water, posing a threat to drinking water.Gold, copper, diamonds, and other precious metals and gemstones are important resources that are found in rainforests around the world. Extracting these natural resources is frequently a destructive activity that damages the rainforest ecosystem and causes problems for people living nearby and downstream from mining operations.In the Amazon rainforest most mining today revolves around alluvial gold deposits. Due to the meandering nature of Amazon rivers, gold is found both in river channels and on the floodplains where rivers once ran. These deposits are actively mined by large-scale operators and informal, small-scale miners. Both operators rely heavily on hydraulic mining techniques, blasting away at river banks, clearing floodplain forests, and using heavy machinery to expose potential gold-yielding gravel deposits. Gold is usually extracted from this gravel using a sluice box to separate heavier sediment and mercury for amalgamating the precious metal. While most of the mercury is removed for reuse or burned off, some may end up in rivers. Studies have found that small-scale miners are less efficient with their use of mercury than industrial miners, releasing an estimated 2.91 pounds (1.32 kg) of mercury into waterways for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of gold produced. While there is no scientific consensus on mercury contamination in the Amazon, according to biologist Michael Goulding, there is evidence of mercury causing problems in other ecosystems. Elemental or inorganic mercury can be transformed (methylated) into organic forms by biological systems and enter food chains. Not only are methylated mercury compounds toxic, but highly bioaccumulative, meaning that mercury concentrations increase up the food chain. Top predators, including otters, birds of prey, and humans, will have the highest levels of mercury in their systems. Those who eat large amounts of fish are at the greatest risk. Other toxic compounds are used and generated in the mining process as well. Mining exposes previously buried metal sulfides to atmospheric oxygen causing their conversion to strong sulfuric acid and metal oxides, which run off into local waterways. Oxides tend to more soluble in water and contaminate local rivers with heavy metals. Large-scale mining operations, especially those using open-pit mining techniques, can result in significant deforestation through forest clearing and the construction of roads which open remote forest areas to transient settlers, land speculators, and small-scale miners. These settlers and miners are probably a greater threat to the tropical rainforest environment than industrial mining operations. Wildcat miners enter regions rumored to have gold deposits and clear forest in search of riches. They hunt wildlife, cut trees for building material and fuelwood, and trigger erosion by clearing hillsides and detonating explosives. Miners can also bring diseases to local indigenous populations (where they still exist) and battles over land rights

Mineral-rich nations, the experts concur, must make strategic policy decisions to maximize mining’s contribution to development. This would require shifting from simply extracting minerals to a broader framework that integrates policies for mining, industry, economic development and environmental protection.An action plan for achieving the AMV was adopted at the Addis Ababa meeting. It calls on governments to improve their policies, strengthen mining institutions and legal and regulatory structures, and invest in human skills and data collection to more effectively manage the sector.

Mining has had a profound impact on aquatic ecosystems like wetlands, creeks, and lakes of northeastern Pennsylvania. Such ecosystems are extremely valuable from both ecological and recreational perspectives. Communities that develop in aquatic ecosystems are typically composed of microscopic species, larger invertebrates like caddisflies and stoneflies, and vertebrates like fish and amphibians. Those organisms interact in complex ways, and play crucial roles in nutrient turnover and energy processing. An important property of aquatic ecosystems is that they are interconnected by the flow of water downstream. Thus, energy and nutrients received by small creeks and wetlands high in the watershed are often used by populations of commercially important finfish and shellfish in downstream rivers and estuaries.Effects of mining on aquatic resources are both physical and chemical in nature. Most of earthmoving activities of mining occurred well before the enactment of laws designed to protect aquatic resources . Strip mining and the deposition of culm material occurred without any regard to wetlands, watercourses, and other waterbodies. Thus, miles of stream channel habitat and many hundreds of acres of wetland in the anthracite areas have been destroyed by indiscriminate digging and filling. One prime example of such destruction can be seen in the Nanticoke Creek corridor in central Luzerne County. There, the normal course of water that drains the unmined upper slopes of Wilkes-Barre Mountain is blocked by a huge culm bank complex near Warrior Run. As a result, the headwaters of Nanticoke Creek are completely isolated from the lower reaches of that creek, and ultimately the Susquehanna River. Results from preliminary studies indicate that biological diversity and food chain support are lower than expected in the Nanticoke Creek headwaters, compared to similar creeks that are directly connected to lower reaches of their watershed.In many places where streams flow through mine impacted areas, the fractured bedrock allows surface streamflow to seep underground. That loss of water is directly opposite to the typical gain in flow as one proceeds to lower positions in watersheds not impacted by mining. As will be noted shortly, that “lost” water is only temporarily hidden from view. Instead, the water resurfaces further down the watershed, often in a highly contaminated form.Even if not completely obliterated, stream channels are often altered and degraded on mined sites. Studies of stream channel morphology on mined sites show that creeks there have unusually steep banks composed of unstable material. That morphology is highly unfavorable during floods because it causes unacceptably high levels of erosion, and because it often exacerbates downstream flooding. Siltation of creeks lower in the watershed is especially problematic because many valuable stream invertebrate species cannot tolerate sediment deposition.The loss of wetlands in mined areas is another source of concern. Wetlands have many environmental benefits and enjoy the protection of federal and state laws. Wetland soils are typically porous and absorb water during periods of heavy precipitation, therefore reducing the severity of downstream flooding. Wetlands also act as excellent natural water purifiers because they trap suspended sediments and remove dissolved pollutants like nitrates, phosphates, and heavy metals. Wetlands also provide habitat to plants and animals. In that context, wetlands serve as spawning and rearing sites for fish and amphibians, breeding locations for many birds, and locations for food chain support for dozens of mammal species. The loss of wetlands due to mining activities has led to dirtier water downstream, exacerbated flooding in some cases, and a regional loss of biological diversity and ecological productivity.Coal was used in South Africa as far back as the Iron Age (300 – 1880 AD). During this time charcoal was used to melt copper and iron. Large-scale usage of coal only started happening around the middle of the 19th century.Coal mining has undergone major development over the years. In the early days of coal mining men used to physically create tunnels to get to the coal deposits by digging. They then extracted the coal and transported the coal on mine carts. These days coal mines are technologically advanced and use sophisticated equipment including; trucks, jacks, conveyors, draglines and shearers to extract the coal.South Africa produces over 250 million tonnes of coal every year. It is estimated that almost 75% of this coal is used domestically. Nearly 80% of the energy needs of South Africa are taken care of by coal and over 90% of the coal consumed on the entire African continent is produced in South Africa. The biggest coal deposits can be found in the Ecca deposits, a vein of the Karoo Supergroup in South Africa. Botswana is the largest diamond miner in the world and is also known for its coal reserves. In recent years it has discovered that Botswana has over 200 billion tonnes of coal reserves and the development of the coal industry has become a major priority. Mozambique is also expected to experience a sharp increase in coal production towards 2020. In China, there’s an almost complete stop to permitting of new coal plants.In India, there is weekly news about coal projects being canceled [or] already started projects being in distress. Wind and solar cost competitiveness has happened so fast, very few people foresaw it, or adjusted their strategies in time.However, there is still a while before we can say coal is, truly, on the way out in Asia. That’s because Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines   the three largest countries in Southeast Asia, with a combined population of over 300 million   are still planning to use coal to electrify their nations. Between them, these three countries are planning to build some 210 new coal-fired plants in the coming years. If all these coal plants are built, they could lock in decades of greenhouse gas emissions, create massive air pollution, and result in the expansion of mines across pristine forests and other natural landscapes across the world.Like Indonesia, Vietnam has ambitious plans to expand coal power in the coming years, and has 56 plants in various stages of planning and implementation. Together these plants are expected to burn nearly 40 million tons of coal a year. Local activists’ efforts to fight these plants have been bolstered by reports that show Vietnam’s air pollution as the second deadliest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.The beauty of this movement is that with costs for clean energy dropping so quickly, you don’t really need to defeat a plant   you only need to delay it for a couple of years.

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