Mining activities are critical for industrial concerns. Largely, mining resources provide energy that is necessary for sustaining the needs of societies. Production of plastics and fertilizers rely on oil extractions. Military technologies utilize uranium sources in the production of nuclear weapons, signifying the relevance of mining in providing homeland security. Renewable energy resources offer environmental-friendly energy sources; however, the infrastructure required to construct the alternative energy installations relies on consumption of rare metals meaning that their demand will increase significantly (André-Mayer 1). Therefore, sustainable practices have to be developed to ensure that cities recycle resources used.
The relevance of any mining expedition is calculated according to the energy ratio achieved. The Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) concept is used to calculate the energy returns to maintain the viability of the mining venture (Ahmed 1). Essentially, the global mineral resources are plentiful; however, mining activities rely on extractions from concentrated sites that offer a reliable EROEI. Recent developments in mining expeditions signify a growing concern in rising needs for energy resources used in mining due to a reduction of easily accessible mineral resources.
Technological innovations such as fracking have limitations since the productivity they offer only run within three years of operation at a site, prompting exploration of many wells at the expense of the environment. Methane is used in the fracking process, and approximately four percent is released to the atmosphere (Environment 1). Taking into consideration that the heat-trapping effect of the gas is twenty-five times stronger than that of carbon dioxide, fracking activities have devastating effects on the atmosphere.
Furthermore, the fracking process relies on the availability of massive amounts of water which has to be sourced from lake, rivers or neighboring communities. Wastewater from the chemical processes involved in Hydraulic fracturing activities has toxic elements that undermine the ecosystem when released to the ground (Greenpeace 1). Lastly, sinkholes and soil contamination are other implications of mining on the environment.
- Ahmed, Nafeez. “Exhaustion of Cheap Mineral Resources is Terraforming Earth – Scientific Report.” The Guardian, 4 June 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/04/mineral-resource-fossil-fuel-depletion-terraform-earth-collapse-civilisation. Accessed 17 November 2017.
- André-Mayer, Anne-Sylvie. “Are our Mineral Resources Truly Limited?” French National Center for Scientific Research, 16 Nov. 2015 https://news.cnrs.fr/opinions/are-our-mineral-resources-truly-limited. Accessed 18 November 2017.
- Environment. “Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health.” Environment, 20 April 2015, https://www.environment.co.za/mining-2/effects-of-mining.html. Accessed 18 November 2017.
- Greenpeace. “About Coal Mining Impacts.” Green Peace, 1 July 2016, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/coal/Coal-mining-impacts. Accessed 18 November 2017.