Environmental Risks of Mining – The Future of Strategic Natural Resources by MIT

Environmental Risks of Mining – How they arise and how their effects can be mitigated.

Unregulated mining has the potential to release harmful substances into the soil, air, and water. Mission 2016 proposes that governments enforce regulations on companies and use cutting-edge technology to reduce the damage from mining-related sources. As more mines open in countries with varying levels of environmental protection, it is increasingly vital that safeguards established by the Strategic Minerals Association (SMA) are in place before operations proceed... Read more


Overview of Global Problems
– The strategic element crisis; depleting supplies, increasing demand, fluctuating prices, human rights violations, and pollution.

As global population and technology usage increases, it is becoming apparent that the world is unprepared to deal with the situation of depleting supply of critical elements. It is clear that Earth’s resources cannot sustain our consumption rates without major alterations to the consumption and usage of these elements Read more


Environmental Damage

The list of environmental concerns that can be connected with rare earth elements is not a
brief one. Throughout the cycle of mining processes that rare earth elements go through, there is potential for negative effects on the environment. Extracting rare earth elements begins with mining. This is followed by the refining process, and then disposal. All of the stages of mining, refining, and disposal come with unique issues… Read more


Human Rights & Developing Countries

Minable ores of critical resources are located around the planet, sometimes concentrated in just a handful of economically viable deposits. Platinum-group elements, uranium, tantalum, niobium, and phosphorus are distributed unevenly in a few, scattered pockets around the globe. As minerals do not adhere to political borders, the most desirable mining zones are often located in countries lacking the economic or technological means to take full advantage of them. Too frequently, poor governmental management of the resources allows control of their mining and sale to fall into the hands of warlords, militias, and anyone else willing to resort to violence and terror Read more


Lack of Regulation

Currently, the only existing regulations on potential environmental and occupational safety issues in the mining industry are those posed by national governments. However, these laws differ from country to country and many companies find ways to circumvent these legal bindings through lobbying, and in some countries, bribing. The lack of international mining safety and environmental standards necessitates a globally accepted protocol that will enforce regulations preventing the contamination of water, air, and soil, and the advent of fatal mining accidents Read more


Limited Access

A key challenge for strategic elements is the concentration of many of the world’s largest deposits and reserve bases in a small number of countries. As the global economy grows more dependent on individual nations for mineral supplies, political, environmental, or economic problems within these producing nations could quickly and negatively influence world strategic mineral prices. For example, price hikes, export regulations, and trade embargos can limit the availability and affordability of strategic minerals to resource-dependent consumers… Read more


Public Awareness

Most people do not know about where things they use every day come from. While this is partially due to lack of concern, in many cases the information is obscured by companies concerned about competitors and concerned with hiding unethical practices. This means that consumers who would like to be environmentally and socially conscious do not ever have the opportunity, and companies that engage in deplorable practices are allowed to continue without financial pressure... Read more


Cost of Inaction
The Price of Prolonging the Status Quo Will Cost the World.

The entire world is in danger of a resource crisis. As human population grows and the demand for natural resources increases there will be a shortage in many commodities including strategic elements. Without strategic elements such as platinum group elements, rare earth metals and phosphorus, maintaining global populations and the global economy will become exceedingly difficult Read more

Source: http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/problems/mining.html

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