Environmental Pollution and Degradation Caused by Mining and Beneficiation Process

The tonnage of material handled and processed by mining and beneficiation is directly linked to the amount of solid waste left at the mining site, and this amount correlates with requirements for energy resources, water resources, and land resources (Norgate, this volume). Mining and processing activities are related to a variety of environmental concerns:

• acid drainage and the resulting effects on ecosystems;1

• metals contamination of ground or surface water and sediments, and the resulting effects on ecosystems;

• toxic substances used for beneficiation (e.g., cyanide for leaching or mercury for amalgamation);

• air emissions and deposition (e.g., suspended particulate matter by mechanized open cut mining);

• pollution associated with immature mining operations by small-scale industry;

• pollutant discharge from abandoned mines;

• land degradation and deforestation;

• wind and water erosion as well as sedimentation.

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