The Impacts of Metal Extraction

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Date Submitted: 05/30/2013 07:36 AM

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The Impacts of Metal extraction

Metal extraction has environmental, social and economic impacts. Before we can extract metals from their ores, we have to mine them. Mining causes lots of environmental problems like contamination of soil, polluted water, erosion, loss of biodiversity and deforestation in some places. When protective measures aren’t taken, there is a risk of chemical leakages and lake pollution. The various chemicals used in the mining process can result in high concentrations of sulphuric acid, arsenic or mercury in the area. This pollutes the water and is harmful to wildlife and their habitats. The chemicals can also mix with the water produced from mine cooling or mine drainage, further increasing the risk of contaminated ground water. Also excess soil and debris produced from the mining causes lack of growth for the surrounding vegetation. In some mining cases, the area has to be cleared of trees and plants before they can begin mining, called deforestation. This further damages wildlife habitats and eco-systems.

After mining the ores, they have to be transported to factories where the metals will be extracted. In order to transport the metals, we have to burn fuels whether we are using a train or a truck. Burning coal (trains) and petrol (trucks/cars) releases environmentally harmful exhaust gases. They both release CO2 and SO2 into the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevents solar energy from escaping it by absorbing the energy. This therefore results in an increase of temperature also known as global warming. The sulphur dioxide in the air comes into contact with water vapour and reacts to form sulphuric acid, which contributes to acid rain. Acid rain causes erosion of rocks and damages plants and eco systems. Nitrogen oxide is also released in the combustion of petrol and also contributes to acid rain.

Next, it’s time for the metal to be extracted. One method used is electrolysis, which uses and electric current passed...