Even though technology has significantly improved the ecological impact of mining, the industry still leaves a considerable carbon footprint. Improper mining can damage ecosystems with soil erosion and by leaving the land more vulnerable and unstable overall.
So how can mining become more environmentally sustainable? Both the industry and the government are searching for solutions to make mining less invasive. With more durable and electric equipment, alternative techniques, and better mining waste processes, the mining industry can become more sustainable.
One way to begin reducing mining’s carbon footprint is to choose more eco-friendly equipment or, when that isn’t possible, to choose long-lasting equipment.
Choosing high-quality crusher liners that are more durable means that they’ll have a longer lifespan, cutting down on the material a company uses during a mining operation. They also help to minimize machinery turnover.
To cut down on fossil fuels, many in the mining industry are beginning to replace diesel engines with electric engines. Choosing electric over diesel will significantly reduce CO2 production during mining.
Some mining techniques are more pervasive than others. Replacing popular methods, such as open pit and underground mining, with alternative mining techniques, such as in-situ leaching, can significantly reduce environmental impact. Choosing alternative methods creates less soil erosion and mining waste.
Often, mining operations leave behind large amounts of waste—rocks, tailings, and wastewater. But there are ways to reuse mining waste either on-site or off-site.
Companies can repurpose tailings, which are typically toxic waste materials, into paint extenders or bricks. After treatment, wastewater can become agriculture, coolant, or even drinking water. Crews can also use rocks to fill voids or recreate terrain to prevent soil erosion at old mining sites.
How mining can become more environmentally sustainable begins with rehabbing mining sites. Companies utilizing site rehab methods can help the environment recover. Pouring biosolids over topsoil will create vegetation within a few weeks and prevent soil erosion. Waste rocks can also fill the void left behind, and some mining companies have even undergone entire reforestation operations.
By employing these tactics, mining companies can improve the environment of the land they leave behind.