The Importance Of Mining Industry

Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Importance Of Mining Industry - 1721 words

Theimportance of mining is definitely significant toCanada. Mining, is an important industry, andCanadians are very advanced in their miningtechnology, but during the mining process, there iscertain level of pollution produced. The Canadiangovernment and the mining companies have verygood plans and controls toward this problem, while ensuring the smooth running of the industries, and also helping to create strong economy andemployment. The world of today could not existwithout mineral products. Canada produces about60 minerals and ranks first among producingcountries1.

As well, Canada is the largest exporterof minerals, with more than 20 per cent ofproduction shipped to world markets2. In atypical year, the mining industry is responsible foralmost 20 per cent of Canada's total exportearnings3 (See Appendix A). As for theemployment rate, over 70 per cent of the minesare owned by Canadians and approximately108,000 Canadians are directly employed in themining industry4. Mining is very important inCanadian life. Not only do the products power thefamily car and heat the family home, themanufacturing sector, the high tech industries andeven the better known resource industries are alldependent, in some way, on the mining industry. The mining industry will continue to be animportant support to the economy

Mining istaking full advantage of the quick expansion ofcomputers and microelectronics. Thesetechnologies are found in nearly every aspect ofmineral development activity - from explorationmethods, through production, mineral processingand even marketing. Computers and relatedequipment now have a lot of different applicationsin geophysical logging, geochemistry, geologicalmapping and surface contouring5. At the mineplanning stage, the job of designing a mine is nowgreatly simplified by automation. Through the useof advanced software, geological models can beproduced from drill hole data. Computers are alsobeing used to develop plans for mine expansion, develop mining schedules for yearly, quarterly andin some cases, weekly operations.

At theoperating stage, this new technology iseverywhere6. Both in research and operationalapplications, automated mine monitoring systemsnow determine immediate information on the statusof equipment in underground or remote locations. Canada produces its 60 mineral products fromroughly 300 mines across the country7. Beforethese products can make the trip from mines to themarketplace, they must be searched for, staked, tested, analyzed, developed. There are manydifference methods to mine for minerals, an 'openpit' mine is one of the method we use today. Theore - waste material along with the minerals, isrecovered directly from the surface. Drilling rigsare used to drill holes into the ore areas andblasting charges will be set in them to break loosethe ore. The ore: first stop is at the primarycrushing station, often located underground, wherethe large chunks of ore are crushed to a finer size. Further crushing is required prior to sending theore to the mill where it is ground to a finepowder8.

The purpose of crushing and grinding isto free the minerals from the rock. Treatment mayconsist of gravity or chemical concentrationtechniques. The end product of the mill is aconcentrate, whereby the percentage of valuablemineral has been increased by a factor of 10 to asmuch as 50 times contained in the ore9. Theconcentration operation may be complicated orrelatively simple, depending on the mineral contentof the ore. Milling processes are designed toseparate the valuable minerals from the undesiredminerals.

Although the milling process separatesvaluable minerals from waste, it does not actuallyrecover the metals in final form. The smeltingoperation treats the metal-bearing concentratefurther, up-grading it to purer form called 'matte'.Basically: The ore concentrates are mixed withother materials and treated at high temperatures tochange the material to other chemical forms. Themetal in the matte can be separated further. Further treatment is applied to the final purificationof the metal and finishing to the standards requiredin the metal-using industries. Mining, as weunderstanding, is a very important industry. Butthere are underlying dangers to our environment. Mining companies and the government haverealized this problem, and regulations and controlshave been applied to it. The major environmentalproblem usually results from the processing andtransportation of mineral products rather than fromthe actual mining process.

Example: when an oilspill has occurred in the ocean, the problemcaused to the environment is very big, becausegallons of oil is spilling over the ocean's surface, resulting in the death of many ocean organisms, and in the pollution of the ocean. (See AppendixB) In this article, it shows how much an oil spillcan endanger the environment. To prevent thisproblem, special attention is given by the captainto watch out for other ships and rocks - since thishuge tanker ship would have to take twokilometres to come to a full stop. Moreover, mining also is an indirect cause to acid rain - oneof a very important environmental problems. Acidrain unquestionably contributed to the acidificationof lakes and streams, causing problems with theagricultural crops and forest growth, and has thepotential to contaminate drinking water systems10.Sulphur dioxide is responsible for about two thirdsof the acidity in precipitation; the other one third isfrom nitrogen oxide. The major source of sulphurdioxide in eastern Canada is nonferrous metalsmelters, which produce more than 40 per cent ofthe region's total emission11 - where smelting isone of the important processes of refiningminerals. Over the past decade, sulphur dioxideemissions at some eastern Canadian nonferrousoperations have been significantly reduced.

Forexample, emission at the Inco smelter in CopperCliff were reduced from 5500 tonnes per day in1969 to 2270 tonnes per day in 1980. TheFalconbridge nickel smelter, which emitted about940 tonnes per day in 1969, now emits about 420tonnes per day12. In eastern Canada, more than50 per cent of the sulphur dioxide comes from theUnited States, while Canada's contribution to totalAmerican deposition is only about 10 per cent13.The Canadian government has noticed thisproblem, and has setup a Memorandum of Intentsigned by the two governments setting up theframework for negotiation of a transboundary airpollution agreement. This agreement ensures bothcountries control their emission and makes surethey do not cause any damage to the environmentof the other country. As well, not only thegovernment is trying to control this problem, smelting companies are also paying a large amountof money to control pollution and reducing sulphurdioxide emissions.

Department of Environment(DOE) estimates that a capital investment of $620million (in 1980 $) would be required by easternCanadian nonferrous smelters to reduce emissionsby 57 per cent. The cost of an 80 per centreduction is estimated to be $1.0 billion14. Theenvironment problem happens in the mine itself aswell, companies have added newer, larger andmore effective filters on their chimneys to reducethe amount of damaging fumes that previously hadbeen released into the atmosphere. Also, moneyhas been spent on research to plant vegetation onthe mine tailings so that the dust is held in placeand not blown around to damage the environment. Companies are becoming more and more awareof the problem today, and government agenciesare also trying to keep our environment clean andheathy, and have set out some guidelines. (SeeAppendix C). Mining process, and mineralexploration, requiring access to large areas oflands, if minerals are discovered, mining -especially 'open pit' mining - can degrade theimmediate environment and have off-propertyeffects on water quality. To minimize this problem, most of the mines in Canada are found in placesfar from the people.

From all of these examples, Canadian companies and the government areinvesting money, trying very hard to continuetaking care of our environment, and their effortsare certainly helping to keep the environment cleanand heathy. Our economy, values of exports, employment rate, and to our everyday needs insociety - we are always direct or indirectlydependent on the mining industry. But as wediscover, the mining industry does contributepollution to the environment. Neverthelessgovernment and mining companies have realize thisproblem, and have contributed money and effortto correct it, helping to keep the environment cleanand heathy, also ensuring this industry will berunning smoothly and bringing in money to create agood economic future. Appendix A Canada:Value of Mineral Exports Mineral Value ($000)Petroleum 5,167,589 Iron and Steel 3,606,417Natural Gas 3,168,733 Gold 2,863,568Aluminum 2,517,303 Coal 1,868,958 Nickel1,033,422 Copper 1,323,711 Sulphur 1,134,273Uranium 841,430 Potash 828,247 Zinc 677,248Asbestos 412,525 Silver 386,092 All otherminerals 2,636,124 Total 28,464,640 Source:Energy, mines and Resources Canada - 1986Appendix B The following attached articles areconcern the damage created by oil spills, andshows what the government has done to help thisproblem. In the article 'Worse than disastrous',the damage to the environment is more that what isexpected.

The wildlife are being killed. Forexample, 350,000 to 390,000 sea birds havebeen killed after the spill. From this article, werealize how much an oil spill can destroy theenvironment, and this is partly related to the miningindustry because it is necessary to transport theseminerals. For the second article 'Tanker captaincharged', which took place in Alaska, the captainof the tanker was charged. Due to the influence ofalcohol.

The government has taken this case veryseriously, and they hope that from this case othercaptains would learn the consequence of being toocareless. Industry's Commitment PrinciplesSummary Appendix C 1. Solutions toenvironmental problems are not simple. To resolvesuch problems, government and industry mustco-operate fully. 2. Government policy in mattersof environmental protection should be developedon scientifically based need, sound economics andconservation of basic resources. 3. Manyreasonable regulations and controls are already inplace.

Care must be taken that these or newcontrols do not become unnecessarily rigid orconfusing and overlapping. 4. The industry acceptsits responsibility to work within certain pollutioncontrol standards, but these standards should beof significant benefit, practical and technologicallysound. 5. The implementation of soundenvironmental policies is not without economicconsiderations.

Society must judge the trade-offamong economic, social and ecologicalimperatives. Endnote 1Mining, what it means toCanada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp. 1 2Mining, what it means toCanada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp.

1-2 3Mining, what it meansto Canada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp. 1-2 4Mining, what it meansto Canada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp. 1-2 5Mining, what it meansto Canada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp.

6-7 6Culter, Phil, Mining inCanada (St. Catharines: Vanwell PublishingLimited, 1990). pp. 15 7Mining, what it means toCanada (Ottawa: The mining association ofCanada, 1988). pp.

17-19 8Mining, what itmeans to Canada (Ottawa: The mining associationof Canada, 1988). pp. 19-21 9Culter, Phil, Mining in Canada (St. Catharines: VanwellPublishing Limited, 1990). pp.

28-30 10MineralPolicy - A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 9911Mineral Policy - A Discussion Paper (Ottawa:Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1981). pp.99 12Mineral Policy - A Discussion Paper(Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada,1981). pp. 99 13Mineral Policy - A DiscussionPaper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines and ResourcesCanada, 1981). pp.

100-101 14Mineral Policy - A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines andResources Canada, 1981). pp. 101 BibliographyBodey, Hugh. Mining. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd,1976.

Culter, Phil. Mining in Canada. St. Catharines: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 1990.Goldsmith, Edward. Imperiled Planet. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1990. MineralPolicy - A Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1981. Mining, What it means to Canada. Ottawa: The MiningAssociation of Canada, 1988.

Smith, Pat. MineralExploration. Ontario: Queen's Printer for Ontario,1991.

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