Open mines and the disposal of mine waste poses a risk to surrounding water supplies and the soil. Chemical reactions occur when some heavy metals are exposed to water and oxygen releasing sulfur into water and in gas form. Heavy metal particulates are carcinogenic, they can be extremely poisonous if consumed in concentrated amounts. Mine dust from open mines can carry these particulates large distances into irrigation canals, reservoirs and soil used for agriculture. Rainwater runoff from mine disposal sites can run into these same water sources. Studies have been conducted like the one referenced in the cited source; high trace amounts of heavy metal particulates were found in surrounding water sources as well as some nearby crops.
Copper is very widespread throughout the environment, and copper that is mined in Indonesia, Chile, the United States, Australia, and Canada accounts for 80% of the world’s copper. Mining the substance certainly has negative effects on the environment. As it does not break down in the environment, it attaches to soil and greatly disrupts plant and animal life. Plants have little chance to survive in copper-rich soils, and because of this, farmland production can also be hindered. Additionally, copper can be detrimental to the breakdown of organic matter, for it can influence earthworm and microorganisms’ activities. Animals are also greatly effected by copper; their health is negatively influenced when they absorb copper concentrations. Sheep, for instance, suffer from copper poisoning on farmlands where the soil contains copper.
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