One time as I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I came across a picture of a group of people protesting against mining. The placards that they were holding read “Kalikasan at tao, o mapanirang pagmimina?” (“The environment and people, or destructive mining?”). The protesters believed that mining is anti-environment and anti-people.
However, contrary to what the anti-mining protesters believe, mining actually supports human society. And with the ever advancing mining technologies and environmental policies, mining becomes more and more environmentally-friendly.
Studying the causes of mining disasters in the past will help modern mines avoid repeating them in the future.
History tells us that majority of mining disasters were due to insufficient monitoring for safety, ineffective or non-existent emergency response systems, and flawed engineering design of facilities like dams. Preventing similar accidents from occurring is possible with the current knowledge on relevant fields like safety, health, the environment, engineering, and disaster risk management. Knowledge on these fields must be applied to design safe mine facilities, utilize state of the art monitoring systems, and develop effective emergency systems.
In a research paper published in 2014 in the journal Mineral Economics, Olle Östensson discussed the significance of employment that is generated by large-scale mining in spurring local economic growth. He evaluated the effects on employment of the Escondida Mine in Chile, Tenke Fungurume Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and various mining companies in Northwest Provice, Zambia. His research showed that large-scale mining generated indirect and induced employment that when combined, surpassed direct employment. The increased employment results in increased spending, which in the long run results in an increase in the overall income of the communities. This phenomenon, called the multiplier effect, boosts local economic growth.
In many of the birthday parties I attended, children would play a game where they would try to blow a plate or bowl of flour as fast as they could to completely reveal the coin buried below. At the end of the game, everyone watching would laugh because the contestants’ faces would be covered with flour.