Environmental management now dominates a range of activities performed by mining companies globally. Mature mine operates recognise that their ‘license to operate’ is often determined by their past environmental performance and future plans to ensure that the environment impacted by mining operations is returned to, at the very least, pre-mining conditions.

Mining Environmental Issues and impacts of mining can occur at various stages of the mining life cycle. Exploration, Construction, Mining Operations, Closure and Remediation.

The environmental hazards of each activity and the impact of those activities can be determined by a range of factors including:

  • The ore being mined;
  • Characteristics of the ore body and its proximity to high impact areas;
  • Ecosystem existing prior to mining activities and its’ sensitivity to the impact of mining operations;
  • Methods of mining:
  • Equipment used in the mining process including but not limited to production and ore processing equipment.

Typically the primary environmental concerns from mining activities include acid mine drainage, heavy metal contamination from leaching, chemical pollution from processing activities and control of erosion and sedimentation, dust deposition and environmental noise, however, there may be other impacts.

Effective environmental management in mining controls the impact of the mining activity in relation to the contamination of air, land and water and the subsequent impact of changes to the normalised conditions on the surrounding ecosystem.

Mining environmental issues management also interfaces with safety management in many organisations. Through understanding the impacts of the environment on personnel and the ecosystem in which they operate, miners may continue to build a sustainable industry.

Australasian Mine Safety Journal provides a range of information, case studies and news on the environmental issues and impacts of mining.

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