Mining companies move staggering amounts of earth to extract small quantities of minerals like gold and copper. Much of this waste is contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals used to extract metals from ore. Dealing with the resulting waste is a constant problem -- for the industry, environment and nearby communities.
On August 4, 2014, a mine waste dam in British Columbia, Canada breached, releasing 24.4 million cubic meters of mine waste (or tailings) sludge into the Fraser River watershed, a group of lakes and rivers that bear salmon and sustain the livelihoods of local First Nation communities.
Each year, mining companies operating throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific dump millions of tons of mine waste into oceans and rivers. Known by the industry as “tailings,” this muddy sludge is created during processing, when the desired mineral, such as gold, is chemically separated from the extracted ore.This is the first post in a series that highlight this worst of the worst practice -- — and the mining companies who continue to do it. For more information about the problem on a global scale, check out our infographic.
Pollution from a zinc mine waste dump in the mining town of Ridder, Kazakhstan, spilled into the Ulba and Filippovka rivers, which flows near the Kazakhstan-Russian border, and headed toward the Siberian city of Omsk. Pictures of the polluted river look like freshwater was replaced by wet concrete.
Later this week, the animated film Finding Dory will be in theaters, and I am excited to see it. But far less exciting are the threats that industrial mining poses to the real-life Dory's habitat.
The lovable Dory is a blue tang - a royal blue tropical fish that lives in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, where mining companies are dumping mine waste.
Norway is a country known for both its affluence and progressive policies. But despite its sterling reputation, its government makes a highly destructive allowance to the mining industry: it permits mining operations to allow the direct dumping of toxic mine waste into the country’s famous fjords.