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Soil Erosion and Mitigation Measures

Discuss about the Environmental Impact of Soil and Sand Mining.

Mining can have various impacts on environment. The impact of mining would include sinkholes formation, soil erosion, soil contamination, and bio diversity depletion. The excessive mining can also have indirect impact on the health of population leaving in the area. It is observed that excessive mining have more negative impacts than positive (McCarthy, 2011). Therefore, it is important that the government and the organizations should not focus on excessive mining. Typically, mining is done in the forest areas so that the negative impact on human civilization could be minimized. The specific ways mining can impact on the environment can be discussed as:

Soil Erosion: Probably the most widespread negative impact of mining on environment is soil erosion. Technically defined, soil erosion refers to the depletion of top surface of the soil. The soil erosion happens through excessive rains, floods, or landslides. The excessive mining makes the lower surface of the soil week and as a result the chances of soil erosion increases in the top layer. The problem with excessive mining is that it acts as a catalyst in the soil erosion process. The excessive use of mining shifts soil erosion from its natural course of action. With the excessive mining there is an increased chances of soil erosion (Saviour, 2012). The soil erosion is the major reason for number of other related issues like groundwater depletion, water contamination etc. Therefor, it is important that the responsible authorities should have a system of check and balances to create a check on soil erosion.

Methods to lessen the impact of soil erosion: The negative impact of mining on soil erosion could be lessened with systematic plan of mining. The impact could be reduced if organizations take steps to put the soil back (Magwai, 2013). It is important that the top layer of the soli should be filled with new soil so that the middle layer does not deplete.

Bio-Diversity depletion: With the increased focus on data mining, there is an increased chance of bio diversity depletion. It is observed that bio diversity is high in the areas where human intervention is limited (Magwai, 2013). With mining, human intervention increases in the region and as a result bio diversity depletion is observed. This is the reason that bio diversity of various forests faces a threat. The animals are not confortable when humans increase their intervention. There are various ways to ensure a region with rich bio diversity. The richness in the flora and fauna would be beneficial in number of ways (Pollock, 2010). It would not only have positive impact on the environment but it would also have positive impact on human beings.

Biodiversity Depletion and Mitigation Measures

Methods to lessen the impact of bio diversity depletion: There are various methods that could be practiced in short-term and long-term to lessen the impact of bio diversity. It is important that the institutions and the organizations should focus on both flora and fauna (Song, 2010). The organizations and the government should plant more trees in the region. In turn, the trees would attract more birds and animals in the region.

Sinkholes formation: Technically defined, sinkhole is a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. The formation of sinkholes is common in the areas where excessive mining is observed (Pollock, 2010). The excessive meaning would actually make the below layers weak and as a result the below layers can observed a shift resulting in the formation of sinkholes. It is reported that the formation of sinkholes could be avoided by keeping a check on mining in the area. The mining can happen in the areas; however the institutions should avoid the excessive mining.

Methods to lessen the impact of sinkholes formation: The formation of sinkholes could be avoided if the spread of soil is even in the area. It can be done when the mining is evenly distributed. It is important that organizations should not focus on mining in any single particular region. On the contrary, organizations should have even mining in the region (Pollock, 2010).  

Groundwater depletion: It can be said that groundwater is the main source of resource (water) across the world. The excessive use of mining is the main culprit behind groundwater depletion. It is observed that the groundwater levels are good in the area where bio diversity is rich. However, the geographic regions where bio diversity is not rich, the groundwater are a scare resource (Magwai, 2013). Therefore, it is important that high level of bio diversity should be maintained across the regions where mining happens. The high level of bio diversity attracts more rainfall in the region and this increases the level of groundwater in the region.

Methods to lessen the impact of groundwater depletion: There are various direct and indirect measures to lessen the impact of groundwater depletion. This impact could be lessened if the mining region can attract rains (Magwai, 2013). It can be done if there are more plants in the region. Therefore, it is important that organizations, governments and society should focus to plan more and more trees in the areas where mining activity is high.

Sinkhole Formation and Mitigation Measures

Discuss how Acid Mine Drainage is formed, what impact it has on the environment and methods that can be used to lessen its impact.

At metal mines, the target ore (like silver, gold, copper, etc.) is often rich in sulfide minerals. When the mining process exposes the sulfides to water and air, together they react to form sulfuric acid (Petrilakova, 2011). This acid can dissolve other harmful metals and metalloids (like arsenic) from the surrounding rock. It is believed that large-scale earth disturbances like mining can cause acid rock drainage. The acid rock drainage is also common in the areas where uninterrupted construction happens. It can be said that excessive mining is a platform for acid mine drainage. Mining is definitely an important reason of acid rock drainage. However, there could be other reasons also. In fact, there could be both natural and unnatural means of acid drainage. The landslides and disruption of soil is the natural reason of acid drainage (Strosnider, 2010). The excessive mining and too much construction is the unnatural means of acid drainage. It is important that the institutions should have the means to manage both natural and man-made reasons.

The occurrence of acid mine drainage could also be explained with the phenomenon of mining under the surface. Sub-surface mining often progresses below the water table, so water must be constantly pumped out of the mine in order to prevent flooding. When a mine is abandoned, the pumping ceases, and water floods the mine. This introduction of water is the initial step in most acid rock drainage situations (Hogsden, 2011). Some other sources of acid min drainage would include the rock dumps of mine waste, coal spoils, and tailing ponds and piles. The source of acid drainage could be small or big. However, it is important that people should not ignore the small sources of acid drainage. There is always a possibility that small sources would lead to bigger sources in future. Moreover, the quality or the intensity of acid also differs across different sources.  It is possible that a small source of acid produces the acid of high intensity.

It is believed that Acid Mine drainage has a negative impact on environment. There are various reasons for acid formation in the mining process. It is important that the organization should have the plan to dump the acid in the regulated areas (Myburgh, 2010). The acid can be harmful for various plants and animals. It is believed that acid can disrupt the bio diversity in the region. With the increased focus on data mining, there is an increased chance of unwanted acid formation. This in turn increases the bio diversity depletion. It is observed that bio diversity is high in the areas where human intervention is limited. With mining, human intervention increases in the region and as a result bio diversity depletion is observed. The acid formation can have negative impact on the plants population in the region. It is believed that the formation of acid can restrict the growth of plants and trees (Zhang, 2012). The adverse effect of acid formation could also be the death of trees. The excess acids near the plants could be fatal for trees. Moreover, if the plants get across the acids then there are chances that the trees would not have fruits. Therefore, it can be said that Acid Mine drainage is harmful for plants and trees.  

Groundwater Depletion and Mitigation Measures

They impact of acid mine drainage could be lessened if the drivers of acid mine drainage could be controlled (Hallberg, 2010). It may not be possible to manage the natural sources of acid mine drainage. However, the efforts should be made to manage the unnatural sources of acid mine drainage. The impact could be lessened if the mining happens in a controlled environment. For example, there should be a considerable difference between two consecutive mines. The existence of two mines near to each other increases the chances of acid mine drainage. Another means to lessened the impact of acid mine drainage is to control the formation of acid. It can be done with the establishment of dumping ground or dumping area for acid. It would be correct to say that it is not easy to dump the acids (Kuang, 2013). However, there are tools and techniques that could be used to dump the acid in a controlled environment. It is important to mention that the small amount of acid can be dumped easily. However, it would not be possible to dump the excessive amount of acid. The environmentalists believe that there is an urgent need to optimize the mining activities so that the acid min drainage could be avoided. This is the reason that the role of environmentalists has increased in the last decade.

References

Balintova, M. and Petrilakova, A., 2011. Study of pH influence on selective precipitation of heavy metals from acid mine drainage. Chem Eng Trans, 25, pp.345-350.

Hallberg, K.B., 2010. New perspectives in acid mine drainage microbiology. Hydrometallurgy, 104(3), pp.448-453.

Hogsden, K.L. and Harding, J.S., 2011. Consequences of acid mine drainage for the structure and function of benthic stream communities: a review.Freshwater Science, 31(1), pp.108-120.

Kuang, J.L., Huang, L.N., Chen, L.X., Hua, Z.S., Li, S.J., Hu, M., Li, J.T. and Shu, W.S., 2013. Contemporary environmental variation determines microbial diversity patterns in acid mine drainage. The ISME journal, 7(5), pp.1038-1050.

Lei, L.Q., Song, C.A., Xie, X.L., Li, Y.H. and Fei, W.A.N.G., 2010. Acid mine drainage and heavy metal contamination in groundwater of metal sulfide mine at arid territory (BS mine, Western Australia). Transactions of Nonferrous Metals Society of China, 20(8), pp.1488-1493.

Magwai, M.K. and Claassen, J.O., 2013. Near-Gravity material experience at Leeuwpan coal mine. In SACPS Bi-annual Conference, Secunda https://​ s3.​ amazonaws.​ com/​ zanran_​ storage/​ www.​ sacoalprep.​ co.​ za/​ ContentPages/​ 2501426370.​ pdf.

McCarthy, T.S., 2011. The impact of acid mine drainage in South Africa.South African Journal of Science, 107(5-6), pp.01-07.

Oberholster, P.J., Myburgh, J.G., Ashton, P.J. and Botha, A.M., 2010. Responses of phytoplankton upon exposure to a mixture of acid mine drainage and high levels of nutrient pollution in Lake Loskop, South Africa.Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 73(3), pp.326-335.

Pollock, D.E., Potts, J.D. and Joy, G.J., 2010. Investigation into dust exposures and mining practices in mines in the southern Appalachian Region. Mining engineering, 62(2), pp.44-49.

Saviour, M.N., 2012. Environmental impact of soil and sand mining: a review.International Journal of Science, Environment and Technology, 1(3), pp.125-134.

Strosnider, W.H. and Nairn, R.W., 2010. Effective passive treatment of high-strength acid mine drainage and raw municipal wastewater in Potosí, Bolivia using simple mutual incubations and limestone. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 105(1), pp.34-42.

Zhang, X., Yang, L., Li, Y., Li, H., Wang, W. and Ye, B., 2012. Impacts of lead/zinc mining and smelting on the environment and human health in China. Environmental monitoring and assessment, 184(4), pp.2261-2273.

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