Gullying as a result of panning. Image credit Reuters

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources Impact of mining on the environment

  • Deforestation and erosion as large areas are cleared when surface methods of mining are used.
  • Frequency of open quarries, trenches and pits may cause land degradation.
  • Infrastructure development which include the construction of roads, railway lines and processing plants.
  • Air pollution from processing/crashing of ores, and use of coal for example smelting of iron ore as well as dust from the dumps and slime dams.
  • As asbestos dust cause cancer and other forms of chest disorders such as asbestosis.
  • Water flowing from dumps can contaminate drinking water supplies for example dumps containing cyanide from gold processing.
  • An example is the How Mine accident where seven miners lost their lives
  • Large areas of waste land.
  • Blasting causes structural damage to building and surface subsidence in areas of worked out seams.
  • Noise pollution from blasting and processing.
  • Lowering of the water table due to excessive pumping of ground water.
  • Soil erosion and siltation of rivers from unstable dumps, gold panning.
  • Land pollution from mine dumps.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page