Mining is the extraction of natural resources from the earth’s crust for economic use
The following Environmental problems caused by mining
- Mining also leads to destruction of land which could have been used for agriculture e.g. by depositing rock debris after rock blasts.
- Mining also leads to swamp reclamation hence destructing the water cycle e.g. quarrying of clay and sand.
- Mining also leads to silting of river valleys which causes floods.
- It leads to destruction of natural beauty by leaving behind large pits.
- It has led to loss of property through displacement of people near mining areas.
- Mining is risky it has involved suffocation of miners underground or burying them underground.
- It has led to neglect of agriculture which leads to outbreak of famine.
- It leads to soil erosion especially in highland areas where trees are cleared leading to soil infertility.
- Mining also leads to landslides in highland regions which destroy human property and life.
- It leads to air pollution during mineral processing especially limestone e.g. at Tororo.
- Leads to deforestation especially when trees are cut to expose the minerals.
- Open cast mining leaves behind large depressions/pits which in turn become mosquito breeding grounds.
- Mining also leads to water pollution which destroys habitats for aquatic animals e.g. copper pyrites are deposited in the wetlands of Lake George and Lake Edward.
- Mining causes noise pollution because of the explosives used to break rocks e.g. stone quarrying in muyenga.
Environmental consequences of sand mining
1. Forcing the river to change its course
Sand and boulders prevent the river from changing the course and act as a buffer for the riverbed.
2. Illegally dredged sand is equivalent to robbing water.
Sand holds a lot of water, and when it is mindlessly mined and laden on to trucks, large quantities of water is lost in transit.
Depletion of groundwater tables
Sand, on a riverbed it acts as a link between the flowing river and the water table and is part of the aquifer.
4. Adversely impacting the habitat of micro-organisms
There are a lot of micro-organisms that are not visible and widely known, but are critical to soil structure and fertility. When sand is dredged, literally it takes away their habitat.
Increased river erosion
When sand and boulders are removed in an unimpeded way using heavy machines, the erosion capacity of the river increases.
Damage to roads and bridges
this occurs when boulders that came down with the river water damages dams and the waters spread out across causing heavy damage.
Threat to agriculture
this occurs when water table falls dramatically leading for scarcity of water for agriculture
Damage to coastal ecosystem
This destructive illegal practice in beaches, creeks leads to erosion along the shoreline.
It wrecks the intertidal area and creates the imminent danger of saline water ingress into freshwater.
Coastal sand mining destroys fisheries, disturbs coral, mangroves, wetlands, and has led to the near-extinction of ghariyals, a crocodile species unique to India.
A major impact of beach sand mining is the loss of protection from storm surges associated with tropical cyclones and tsunamis.