While you just said “mining” i’m going to answer this question with regards to coal mining since that is one of the more popular forms of mining and one of the most harmful. It’s hard to say what the “worst” part of mining is. There are several bad things associated with mining. The first of these is the disease cause. Coal pollution causes asthma, heart attacks, and death. Coal miners also die by the thousands from black lung disease.
The burning of coal emits Mercury which can get into people and children’s systems and cause brain damage among other problems.
Coal mining is also extremely environmentally destructive. It wastes huge quantities of water, pollutes fish and oceans with its mercury, destroys mountains due to mountaintop removal, and kills freshwater streams by burying or damaging them.
Haydenseder is absolutely correct, the resulting emissions from burning the mined product is incredibly harmful. However there is no way of knowing which part of the mining process is the MOST harmful.
One destructive aspect of the process is the tailings left behind. Tailings are bi-products of the mining process, such as the seperated rock which did not have any product or waste water used to help extract the resource. Once the mining process is finished, tailings are simply left behind at the site. They contain all of the hazardous chemicals from the mining which are then allowed to enter the ecosystem by way of seeping or leaching into ground and above-ground water sources.
Also, dams are constructed to hold waste water tailings and are susceptible to breaks. These dam breaks can flood towns and even kill people. The ever-present threat of post-mining tailings are just one factor to the harmfulness of mining.
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