When an ore is extracted from a mine site, the valuable minerals must be separated from the worthless ones. Froth flotation is the method in which the ore is crushed into fine grains and then added to water. Once this is stirred in, it produces a slurry. A chemical is added and it makes the precious minerals hydrophobic. This then causes that mineral to float to the top of the slurry on bubbles which then makes a froth and is seperated by hand.
Even through froth flotation is a fast and convenient way to separate ores, it can be damaging to the environment.
Why is froth flotation bad for the environment?
Once the froth has been used, it is dumped inslag piles. These piles then can have toxic minerals that then leech through the ground and infect groundwater and surface runoff. It can also contaminate soils and overall harm the environment around the area.
Also, the air might become unbreatheable. This is because the metal sulfide becomes oxidised.
If the water and air becomes toxic, it may be lethal to both plantlife and animals. This could cause ecosystems damage, as if one species dies out, whatever consumes that one species would soon starve, making the same thing happen to the next consumer. It causes a domino effect and ends up ruining the environment around towns and people.
Overall, froth flotation is not a benefit to the environment but if disposed of properly can be a convenient way of separating metals.
Jobs on the mine
List some of the jobs found on a mine site
For each of these jobs, explain the training needed for each position
- Registered manager- must be compentent leadership, management and familiar with rules of health and safety.
- Metalurgist- a bachelor degree in science or engineering, also participants in course such as physics and mathematics.
- Mining engineer- same/similar qualifications as a metalurgist.
- Mill/plant manager- sometimes a degree in business, but few courses needed.
- Health and safety personnel- must complete a course in order to know how to act.
Why would the operating mine be a good thing for the town?
Having a mine so near a town is good for many reasons.
First, the employment rates increase. This is because unlike most jobs, mines work twenty four hours, seven days a week, meaning that they need double- or even triple- the amount of people to work on and off the site. It also increases because the mine needs both skilled and unskilled workers, so no matter what level a person might be at, there is always work.
As a result of this, the economy then becomes more stable as there is more money to spend, therefore more money to produce extra goods that can then be sold again.
Another reason a mine might be convenient is because mines provide goods for the towns that can be easily accessed without having to be shipped from overseas or another state. This saves money and leaves more for other purposes.