Subject: The Issue of Open Pit Mining
Dear, Mark Farnsworth
My name is Karen Kanemaru from Riverside Secondary School and I am writing to you because of our country’s most commonly used method of mining minerals, open pit mining is gravely flawed. As you may already know mining is a large part of British Columbia’s economy and it’s value is constantly changing. Mining has always been around even before the Europeans arrived in the 1800’s but it is only recently that mining has become overground. Until the 1950’s mining was an underground job, but now open pit mining has become the major method because it has no risk of cave-ins, diminishes the restriction of narrow spaces, and is able to use large extraction vehicles meaning more ores can be extracted each day. But even good things have their cons, and open pit mining is now damaging our beautiful province and perhaps it’s economy.
An open pit mine’s approximate life span is 25 years which is very short time in reality. Once these mines are no longer useful they are either left in their state or covered and returned back to their “natural state”. If we were to leave open pit mines as they are, there is a very high chance poisonous gases will emit into the air, also the beauty of that area will be gone, a barren hole in the ground instead of lively ecosystems and lush plants. Also you can not exactly return an open pit mine back to what it was before. The damage has already been done, water near by may have made contact with toxins and that water is led down the stream until it is set into a place where there is wildlife, damages the Earth’s ground water, or made into water we drink. Minerals take thousands, even millions of years to form and once we excavate them from the ground, they won’t return instantaneously. We must also consider that while taking out the minerals, toxic emissions are let out into the atmosphere, polluting our oxygen and making acid more likely to form creating acid rain. Even after spending billions of dollars trying to prevent these problems from happening, in the end it is a force we cannot stop.
The economy of the mining industry is very unstable, since it majors in export sales and we depend on our customers economy so we benefit our own. The worse the economy of our customers, the less of the demand for our products. Another economic issue is the competition, there are many countries around the world that have mineral deposits that are able to sell the same minerals we do for cheaper costs because of their cheaper production costs. The costs for maintaining open pit mines is very costly, the costs for making the pit, machines, worker salaries, fuel costs, clean up costs, etc.
So what can we do to solve this situation or at least lessen the risk of it becoming something we can no longer fix? There are many solutions such as trying to not completely rely on our mineral economy therefore lessening production which means less mines being made. Using technology such as ESG to monitor the risk of any accidents. ESG is a microseismic system that uses high powered motion sensors to determine the grounds reaction to excavation and extraction operations. With ESG the workers are able to easily make a mining plan therefore lessening costs and lowering the probability of disaster.
I hope that you take these solutions to these current issues into consideration.
Best Regards, Karen Kanemaru
2215 Reeve Street
Port Coquitlam, BC