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Mining Waste & Pollution of Water Bodies

Mining Waste & Pollution of Water Bodies

A significant number of mines operating in the African region are unregulated. Which means, there is no one to take responsibility for its proper disposal once the operations are over. However, one should not make an assumption that it is all good for the mines which are regulated. The problem of open mining pits is very much with the regulated mines too.

Once all the diamonds are extracted from a mine, it becomes useless. Hence, the mining site is left abandoned. This abandoned mining pit, which is often huge in terms of its volume, becomes the perfect place for the rain water to get collected and stagnate. This then becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects and often causes diseases like malaria in the region.

In Sierra Leone’s Kono district alone, there are more than 1000 abandoned mining pits that have become a health hazard for the people of the region. The digging and then throwing of the mud have almost eroded the top soil, which has made farming almost impossible.

In addition to the damage to the soil and its fertility, the amount of mineral waste created because of mining is extremely hazardous, not just for the environment, but for the humans and animals too. It is estimated that a single carat of diamond results in a mineral waste of around a whopping 5979 pounds.

Mineral waste is a mix of toxic materials that are generally used in mining. One of the most common compounds used in gold mining is cyanide, which has the potential to become extremely harmful, if not deadly.

Being in the form of both liquid wastes and gases, the toxicity of the mineral waste affects both the air quality and significantly pollutes the water. This deterioration of air and water quality is responsible for many different types of diseases and even deaths for the people and the animals living near the mines.


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