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CHAPTER 23. MINERALS & MINING. MINERALS & MINING. A RESOURCE MINING METHODS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS SUSTAINABILITY. BACK TO GEOLOGY, ROCK CYCLE, LITHOSPHERE. ROCK: “A solid aggregation of minerals.”

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CHAPTER 23

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CHAPTER 23

MINERALS & MINING


MINERALS & MINING

  • A RESOURCE

  • MINING METHODS

  • ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

  • SUSTAINABILITY


BACK TO GEOLOGY, ROCK CYCLE, LITHOSPHERE

  • ROCK: “A solid aggregation of minerals.”

  • MINERAL: “Naturally occurring solid chemical element or (inorganic) compound having well-defined crystalline structure, specific composition, and distinct physical properties.”


LITHOSPHERE: Upper Mantle + Crust (~ 60 miles)


Eg., Tantalite

  • Tantalum, Oxygen, Iron, Manganese

  • Tantalum: electronics

  • Occurs in pegmatite(igneous rock), along with: feldspar, quartz, mica and occasionally gemstones.


METALS ARE MINED FROM “ORES”

  • ORES: METALS IN MINERAL FORM

  • Copper

  • Iron

  • Lead

  • Gold

  • Aluminum


IRON: NO Fe, NO STEEL!


ALUMINUM: NO Al, NO AIR TRAVEL, NO AIRLINES, NO AIR DEFENSE.....


Minerals and Metals are everywhere in our products


MINING METHODS

  • STRIP MINING

  • SUBSURFACE MINING

  • OPEN PIT

  • MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL


STRIP MINING

  • EFFICIENT FOR SHALLOW MINERALS

  • REMOVE UPPER LAYERS

  • COMMON FOR COAL

  • ENVIRONMENTALLY DISASTOROUS

    • Severe community disturbance!

    • Erosion!

    • Acid drainage: exposed sulfides + O2 + rainwater = H2SO4

    • Acid promotes heavy metal leaching


SUBSURFACE MINING

  • TRADITIONAL

  • Zn, Pb, Ni, Sn, Au, Cu, U

  • Diamonds

  • MINERALS DEEP UNDERGROUND

  • DANGEROUS!


AUGUST, 2010: CHILE


MATEWAN, WV: UNIONIZING


OPEN PIT

  • MINERALS SPREAD EVENLY

  • SOILS UNSUITABLE FOR TUNNELING

  • DIG GIGANTIC HOLE


One open pit mine

One Utah mine is 2.5 mi across and 0.75 mi deep; almost half a million tons of ore and rock are removed each day


HOLES FILL WITH GROUNDWATER ----- ACID


MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL!!

  • COAL

  • APPALACHIAN MTNS

  • KENTUCKY, WEST VIRGINIA, PENNSYLVANIA


A mining method: mountaintop removal

  • Entire mountaintops are blasted off

    • The waste is dumped into valleys

  • For coal in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern U.S.

  • Economically efficient

    • “Valley filling” = dumping rock and debris into valleys

  • Degrades and destroys vast areas

  • Pollutes streams, deforests areas, erosion, mudslides, flash floods

An area the size of Delaware has already been removed


WHERE DOES ALL THAT ROCK AND SOIL GO?

  • VALLEY FILLING

  • 2,000 MILES OF STREAMS BURIED


MINING: OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS!

  • MINE “TAILINGS”

    • Leftover ore after metals extraction

    • Subject to “leaching” of residual heavy metals, extraction chemicals (cyanide/Hg to extract gold, sulfuric acid for copper)

    • Runoff to streams

    • Tailings Ponds: leaching to groundwater

    • WESTERN U.S.!

  • SMELTING: Air toxics pollution

  • WATER, ENERGY!


SMELTING

  • HEATING ORES BEYOND THEIR M.P. AND COMBINING WITH OTHER METALS/CHEMICALS

  • LEAD SMELTING!


RESTORATION OF MINING SITES

  • “RECLAMATION”

  • ONLY PARTIALLY EFFECTIVE


LAWS, REGULATIONS

  • THE GENERAL MINING ACT OF 1872

  • ALLOWS ANY U.S. CITIZEN OR COMPANY TO STAKE A CLAIM ON ANY PLOT OF PUBLIC LAND OPEN TO MINING.

  • NO PAYMENTS TO PUBLIC REQUIRED.


‘SUSTAINABLE MINING’

  • AN OXYMORON ??

  • Oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness”

  • “CLEAN COAL”??


MINERALS ARE NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES

  • SUSTAINABILITY HINGES ON RATE OF EXTRACTION

  • DISCOVERY OF NEW RESERVES

    • ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS?!

  • NEW EXTRACTION TECHNOLOGIES

    • ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS?!

  • RECYCLING


  • Years remaining for selected minerals

    • Scarcity increases prices

      • Industries will spend more to reach further deposits


    RECYCLING


    DISCARDED CELL PHONES!

    • PAGE 661

    • > $300 MILLION

    • MAJOR SOURCE OF TOXIC METALS FROM LANDFILLS


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