Mining is the extraction of metals and minerals from earth. Minerals and metals are the base material for many things we rely on such as vehicles, smartphones, the buildings where we live and work along with many more. Tantalum, which is a metal, is used to make, cellphones, laptops and pagers. Tin and copper are used to produce cookware and pipes. And silver, gold and diamonds are used for making jewellery
As individuals, we depend on mining to make our daily lives easier, Canada relies on mining to keep the economy elevated. Mining is one of Canada's most important economic industries and a major employer. This industry brought in $57 billion to Canada's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2014. About 375,000 people across Canada work in the mining industry. The workers get the highest wages and salaries out of all the industrial sectors in Canada. But they do work in very dangerous conditions. Three major disasters took place in Nova Scotia in 1891 (125 dead), 1956 (39 dead) and 1958 (74 dead) when earthquakes collapsed parts of the mine. Safety and working conditions have improved very much in this industry because Canada has stopped dangerous under ground mining, using methods like open pit mining or strip mining.
Back in the days, ores were mined just using water separation techniques or simple picks and shovels, usually by a small team of miners. Now technology has advanced so underground railcars, large power shovels and machine hoists have reduced human labour and the rate of industrial accidents has decreased drastically. One controversial method of extraction is strip mining. Strip mining is the removal of rock and soil above a layer, then the removal of the mineral which has been exposed. This method ruins the landscape and pollutes the water around it.
Metals in Canada
Some important minerals and metals in Canada and what they are used for:
-Gold: Jewelry is the primary us of gold. The most important industrial use of gold is in electronics because it is a great conductor of electricity.
-Silver: Some industrial uses are for batteries, mirrors, silverware and silver plating.
-Iron: This is the raw material used to produce steel , and steel is the world's most important industrial material in the world. Thumbtacks, trucks, tin cans and even toaster are made with steel.
-Potash: It is a major source of potassium and is a major ingredient in most fertilizers because it helps increase crop yields
Issues in the Canadian Mining Industry
One of the most serious issues facing the mining industry is its negative impact on the environment. Over the past 20 years, more than $1 billion has been spent on controlling harmful emissions from mines and processing plants.
Despite the great success in this this industry, millions of tonnes of waste still find their way into our air and water. Acid precipitation is directly related to our mining industry. INCO's smelter in Sudbury y is the world's largest single source of sulphur dioxide.
We are also over using high quality mineral and metal reserves in Canada so in the future, Canada will have to rely on other mineral deposits that are not of great quality.
One other environmental concern is abandoned mines and what happens to the land after all the resources have been extracted and the mine closes. There are many abandoned mines across Canada that have left many scars on the land and are continuously polluting the environment. Mine wastes still leak into rivers and lakes even after the mine has been abandoned.
How can we make this Industry more Sustainable?
This industry can be more sustainable by:
- Using less cleaner production methods to lessen the mine waste
- Consuming less energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Reducing water extraction techniques at mine sites
- Reduce land scarring by reducing the size of the mining area
The mining industry is a major exporter in Canada. Minerals and metals are important to countries with growing or already large infrastructure sectors. China, India and countries in Africa and Latin America are very important trading partners to Canada.
- Gold and copper were the the first metals to be discovered by man around 5000 BC.
- Canada is one of the largest mining nations in the world, producing more than 60 minerals and metals!
- The chemical symbol for gold (Au), derives from a Latin word meaning "shining dawn".
- Petroleum is used to make over 6000 items including deodorant, crayons and dentures!
- Zinc is 100% recyclable!