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Mining In Canada Essay Research Paper The

Mining In Canada Essay, Research Paper The Importance of Mining Industry The importance of mining is definitely significant to Canada. Mining, is an important industry, and Canadians are very advanced

Mining In Canada Essay, Research Paper

The Importance of Mining Industry

The importance of mining is definitely significant to Canada.

Mining, is an important industry, and Canadians are very advanced

in their mining technology, but during the mining process, there

is certain level of pollution produced. The Canadian government

and the mining companies have very good plans and controls toward

this problem, while ensuring the smooth running of the

industries, and also helping to create strong economy and

employment.

The world of today could not exist without mineral products.

Canada produces about 60 minerals and ranks first among producing

countries1. As well, Canada is the largest exporter of minerals,

with more than 20 per cent of production shipped to world

markets2. In a typical year, the mining industry is responsible

for almost 20 per cent of Canada’s total export earnings3 (See

Appendix A). As for the employment rate, over 70 per cent of the

mines are owned by Canadians and approximately 108,000 Canadians

are directly employed in the mining industry4. Mining is very

important in Canadian life. Not only do the products power the

family car and heat the family home, the manufacturing sector,

the high tech industries and even the better known resource

industries are all dependent, in some way, on the mining

industry. The mining industry will continue to be an important

support to the economy.

Mining is taking full advantage of the quick expansion of

computers and microelectronics. These technologies are found in

nearly every aspect of mineral development activity – from

exploration methods, through production, mineral processing and

even marketing. Computers and related equipment now have a lot

of different applications in geophysical logging, geochemistry,

geological mapping and surface contouring5. At the mine planning

stage, the job of designing a mine is now greatly simplified by

automation. Through the use of advanced software, geological

models can be produced from drill hole data. Computers are also

being used to develop plans for mine expansion, develop mining

schedules for yearly, quarterly and in some cases, weekly

operations. At the operating stage, this new technology is

everywhere6. Both in research and operational applications,

automated mine monitoring systems now determine immediate

information on the status of equipment in underground or remote

locations.

Canada produces its 60 mineral products from roughly 300 mines

across the country7. Before these products can make the trip

from mines to the marketplace, they must be searched for, staked,

tested, analyzed, developed. There are many difference methods

to mine for minerals, an “open pit” mine is one of the method we

use today. The ore – waste material along with the minerals, is

recovered directly from the surface. Drilling rigs are used to

drill holes into the ore areas and blasting charges will be set

in them to break loose the ore. The ore: first stop is at the

primary crushing station, often located underground, where the

large chunks of ore are crushed to a finer size. Further

crushing is required prior to sending the ore to the mill where

it is ground to a fine powder8. The purpose of crushing and

grinding is to free the minerals from the rock. Treatment may

consist of gravity or chemical concentration techniques.

The end product of the mill is a concentrate, whereby the

percentage of valuable mineral has been increased by a factor of

10 to as much as 50 times contained in the ore9. The

concentration operation may be complicated or relatively simple,

depending on the mineral content of the ore. Milling processes

are designed to separate the valuable minerals from the undesired

minerals. Although the milling process separates valuable

minerals from waste, it does not actually recover the metals in

final form. The smelting operation treats the metal-bearing

concentrate further, up-grading it to purer form called “matte”.

Basically: The ore concentrates are mixed with other materials

and treated at high temperatures to change the material to other

chemical forms. The metal in the matte can be separated further.

Further treatment is applied to the final purification of the

metal and finishing to the standards required in the metal-using

industries.

Mining, as we understanding, is a very important industry. But

there are underlying dangers to our environment. Mining

companies and the government have realized this problem, and

regulations and controls have been applied to it. The major

environmental problem usually results from the processing and

transportation of mineral products rather than from the actual

mining process. Example: when an oil spill has occurred in the

ocean, the problem caused to the environment is very big, because

gallons of oil is spilling over the ocean’s surface, resulting in

the death of many ocean organisms, and in the pollution of

the ocean. (See Appendix B) In this article, it shows how much

an oil spill can endanger the environment. To prevent this

problem, special attention is given by the captain to watch out

for other ships and rocks – since this huge tanker ship

would have to take two kilometres to come to a full stop.

Moreover, mining also is an indirect cause to acid rain – one of

a very important environmental problems. Acid rain

unquestionably contributed to the acidification of lakes and

streams, causing problems with the agricultural crops and forest

growth, and has the potential to contaminate drinking water

systems 10. Sulphur dioxide is responsible for about two thirds

of the acidity in precipitation; the other one third is from

nitrogen oxide. The major source of sulphur dioxide in eastern

Canada is nonferrous metal smelters, which produce more than 40

per cent of the region’s total emission11 – where smelting is one

of the important processes of refining minerals. Over the past

decade, sulphur dioxide emissions at some eastern Canadian

nonferrous operations have been significantly reduced. For

example, emission at the Inco smelter in Copper Cliff were

reduced from 5500 tonnes per day in 1969 to 2270 tonnes per day

in 1980. The Falconbridge nickel smelter, which emitted about

940 tonnes per day in 1969, now emits about 420 tonnes per day12.

In eastern Canada, more than 50 per cent of the sulphur dioxide

comes from the United States, while Canada’s contribution to

total American deposition is only about 10 per cent13. The

Canadian government has noticed this problem, and has setup a

Memorandum of Intent signed by the two governments setting up the

framework for negotiation of a transboundary air pollution

agreement. This agreement ensures both countries control their

mission and makes sure they do not cause any damage to the

environment of the other country. As well, not only the

government is trying to control this problem, smelting companies

are also paying a large amount of money to control pollution

and reducing sulphur dioxide emissions. Department of

environment (DOE) estimates that a capital investment of $620

million (in 1980 $) would be required by eastern Canadian

nonferrous smelters to reduce emissions by 57 per cent. The

cost of an 80 per cent reduction is estimated to be $1.0 billion

14.

The environment problem happens in the mine itself as well,

companies have added newer, larger and more effective filters on

their chimneys to reduce the amount of damaging fumes that

previously had been released into the atmosphere. Also, money

has been spent on research to plant vegetation on the mine

tailings so that the dust is held in place and not blown around

to damage the environment. Companies are becoming more and more

aware of the problem today, and government agencies are also

trying to keep our environment clean and heathy, and have set out

some guidelines. (See Appendix C). Mining process, and mineral

exploration, requiring access to large areas of lands, if

minerals are discovered, mining – especially “open pit” mining -

can degrade the immediate environment and have off-property

effects on water quality. To minimize this problem, most of the

mines in Canada are found in places far from the people. From

all of these examples, Canadian companies and the government are

investing money, trying very hard to continue taking care of our

environment, and their efforts are certainly helping to keep the

environment clean and heathy.

Our economy, values of exports, employment rate, and to our

everyday needs in society – we are always direct or indirectly

dependent on the mining industry. But as we discover, the mining

industry does contribute pollution to the environment.

Nevertheless government and mining companies have realize this

problem, and have contributed money and effort to correct it,

helping to keep the environment clean and heathy, also ensuring

this industry will be running smoothly and bringing in money to

create a good economic future.

Appendix A

Canada: Value of Mineral Exports

Mineral Value ($000)

Petroleum 5,167,589

Iron and Steel 3,606,417

Natural Gas 3,168,733

Gold 2,863,568

Aluminum 2,517,303

Coal 1,868,958

Nickel 1,033,422

Copper 1,323,711

Sulphur 1,134,273

Uranium 841,430

Potash 828,247

Zinc 677,248

Asbestos 412,525

Silver 386,092

All other minerals 2,636,124

Total 28,464,640

Source: Energy, mines and Resources Canada – 1986

Appendix B

The following attached articles are concern the damage created by

oil spills, and shows what the government has done to help this

problem. In the article “Worse than disastrous”, the damage to

the environment is more that what is expected. The wildlife are

being killed. For example, 350,000 to 390,000 sea birds have

been killed after the spill. From this article, we realize how

much an oil spill can destroy the environment, and this is partly

related to the mining industry because it is necessary to

transport these minerals. For the second article “Tanker captain

charged”, which took place in Alaska, the captain of the tanker

was charged. Due to the influence of alcohol.

The government has taken this case very seriously, and they hope

that from this case other captains would learn the consequence of

being too careless.

Industry’s Commitment Principles Summary

Appendix C

1. Solutions to environmental problems are not simple. To

resolve such problems, government and industry must co-operate

fully.

2. Government policy in matters of environmental protection

should be developed on scientifically based need, sound economics

and conservation of basic resources.

3. Many reasonable regulations and controls are already in

place. Care must be taken that these or new controls do not

become unnecessarily rigid or confusing and overlapping.

4. The industry accepts its responsibility to work within

certain pollution control standards, but these standards should

be of significant benefit, practical and technologically sound.

5. The implementation of sound environmental policies is not

without economic considerations. Society must judge the trade-

off among economic, social and ecological imperatives.

Endnote

1Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 1

2Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 1-2

3Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 1-2

4Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 1-2

5Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 6-7

6Culter, Phil, Mining in Canada (St. Catharines: Vanwell

Publishing Limited, 1990). pp. 15

7Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 17-19

8Mining, what it means to Canada (Ottawa: The mining

association of Canada, 1988). pp. 19-21

9Culter, Phil, Mining in Canada (St. Catharines: Vanwell

Publishing Limited, 1990). pp. 28-30

10Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines

and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 99

11Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines

and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 99

12Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines

and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 99

13Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines

and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 100-101

14Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper (Ottawa: Energy, Mines

and Resources Canada, 1981). pp. 101

Bibliography

Bodey, Hugh. Mining. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1976.

Culter, Phil. Mining in Canada. St. Catharines: Vanwell

Publishing Limited, 1990.

Goldsmith, Edward. Imperiled Planet. Cambridge, Massachusetts:

The MIT Press, 1990.

Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Energy, Mines and

Resources Canada, 1981.

Mining, What it means to Canada. Ottawa: The Mining

Association of Canada, 1988.

Smith, Pat. Mineral Exploration. Ontario: Queen’s Printer for

Ontario, 1991.

Bibliography

Bodey, Hugh. Mining. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1976.

Culter, Phil. Mining in Canada. St. Catharines: Vanwell

Publishing Limited, 1990.

Goldsmith, Edward. Imperiled Planet. Cambridge, Massachusetts:

The MIT Press, 1990.

Mineral Policy – A Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Energy, Mines and

Resources Canada, 1981.

Mining, What it means to Canada. Ottawa: The Mining

Association of Canada, 1988.

Smith, Pat. Mineral Exploration. Ontario: Queen’s Printer for

Ontario, 1991.

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