An open pit mine recently collapsed in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region, killing at least two people and leaving more than 50 missing.
About ‘Open-pit mining’ –
- Open-pit mining, also known as opencast mining, is a surface mining technique that extracts minerals from an open pit in the ground.
- It is the most common method used worldwide for mineral mining and does not require extractive methods or tunnels.
- It is an appropriate extraction method when mineral or ore deposits are found relatively close to the earth’s surface, which is overlain by relatively thin vegetation, topsoil, and rock (collectively called overburden).
- It uses a series of level surfaces or benches to reach the deposit, forming an open pit that looks similar to an inverted pyramid.
- Open-pit mines undergo constant expansion until all mineral resources are exhausted.
- Most of the world’s annual output of copper, gold, and iron ore is from open-pit mining
- Other commodities produced from open-pit mining include diamonds, molybdenum, manganese, lead and zinc, uranium, and a variety of industrial minerals, such as borates, talc , etc.
- Open-pit mining has higher productivity, lower operating costs, and is relatively safer than other mining methods.
Environmental effects of open pit mining –
- It consumes enormous amounts of water;
- heavily pollute water and air;
- disfigures landscapes;
- permanently destroys habitat;
- the pit area retains elevated risks of erosion and flooding even after pits are exhausted.