Environmental Reclamation: Driven by the Demand for Mining

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The Demand for Mining

The mining industry supports diverse sectors that drive global economic growth. It caters to the construction, manufacturing, communication, semiconductor industries, and more. Mined resources are used as building blocks, fuel sources, and raw materials for producing almost everything we use daily. It is entrenched in our way of life, such that every American will consume approximately 3.4 tons of coal and roughly 40,000 pounds of mined resources annually.

Mining and the innovative use of minerals have advanced our civilization into new industrial and technological heights. Coal, copper, gold, iron, petroleum, and other metallic, non-metallic, and industrial minerals are essential in the rise of cities and new technologies. Construction, transportation, communication, defense systems, computers, buildings, and hospitals, are only a few of the applications that use mined resources. The mining sector is one of the highest contributors in the US economy and in 2018, has provided 672,000 job opportunities in the US.

Value added to the US economy by sector. The mining sector is one of the highest contributors in the US economy and in 2018, has provided 672,000 job opporrtunities.
Source: U.S. Mines to Market, Prepared for The National Mining Association.

The power generation sector alone requires mined resources to generate and distribute electricity. Fifty percent of mined coal and uranium goes directly to the U.S. electricity demand. And as we continue to progress toward cleaner solutions for power generation, the demand for copper in the renewable energy space is intensive. For every megawatt of solar PV capacity, 4 to 5 tons of copper is required and similarly, for every megawatt of wind power, 3.6 tons of copper is needed. Electric vehicles use three times more copper than combustion engines as well.

Source: Beyond the Supercycle: How Technology is Reshaping Resources

Resource Extraction through Responsible Mining

Mining has been around for thousands of years and in comparison, previous mining activities were hazardous and environmentally unsound. But through the experiences of the past, our society came to comprehend the required balance of the need for mining, the preservation of the ecosystem, and the protection of human life.

The improvement in mining practices, evolution and maturing of safety regulations, and research and development on refined and efficient means to unravel ore deposits are some of the results in the last century’s clear and holistic understanding of mining and its long term effect. Although many historic mine lands did not benefit from modern mining management practices and technologies that are available today, responsible parties and stakeholders are now working towards mitigating environmental hazards and long-term remediation management.

Source: Concentration and Number of Abandoned Mines in the US

Modern mining companies work proactively as part of the overall value chain to implement responsible mining practices before, during, and after mining operations. On top of executing best mining practices during operation, the remediation process is necessary in order to ensure good environmental stewardship. The reclamation of inactive and active mine sites is a collective effort from the government, mining companies, and the community. Mining firms must comply and meet regulatory standards, legal, and consent requirements of the country and local community by which it operates. This guide aims to encompass topics that surround the mining reclamation process and the following outlines the subjects that will be covered: [6,7]:

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