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Mining Resource Extraction and Production

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Mineral extraction and petroleum and gas production are major resource extraction activities that provide the raw materials to support our economic infrastructure. An enormous amount of pollution is generated from the extraction of natural resources from the environment.

The EPA's Toxic Releases Inventory report lists mining as the single largest source of toxic waste of all industries. Mineral extraction sites, which include strip mines, quarries, and underground mines, contribute to surface and groundwater pollution, erosion, and sedimentation. The mining process also includes the use of chemicals to remove the desired mineral ore. You can buy high-quality chemicals from a certified mining chemicals supplier.

 

The ore is then crushed into finely ground tailings for chemical processing and separation to extract the target minerals. After the minerals are processed, the waste rock and mine tailings are stored in large, above-ground piles and containment areas. These waste piles, along with the bedrock walls exposed from mining, pose a huge environmental problem due to metals pollution associated primarily with acid mine drainage.

Acid mine drainage is caused when water draining through surface mines, deep mines, and waste piles comes in contact with exposed rocks that contain pyrite, an iron sulfide, causing a chemical reaction. The resulting water is high in sulfuric acid and contains elevated levels of dissolved iron. This acid runoff also dissolves heavy metals such as lead, copper, and mercury, resulting in surface and groundwater contamination.

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