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Mining in the 21st century must bear its environmental costs

Mining in the 21st century must bear its environmental costs

Mining in the XXI century "must bear the environmental costs" derived from an activity that society "questions as shocking" although "what is truly shocking is the growing demand for minerals by that same society," explained geographer Juan Requejo .

This expert and managing director of the specialized consultancy Asistencias Técnicas Clave believes that there is “a political opinion dissociated from reality"In which mining is criticized by the same people who, at the same time,"they are big consumersOf metals.

Airplanes, cars, buildings, household appliances ... include different alloys of minerals and metals, he recalled, and a good example of its importance is the amount of materials of this type that includes something as common today as a smartphone: aluminum, tungsten , copper, palladium, niobium, tantalum and even gold, silver and platinum are some of the elements that are part of its composition in different percentages.

We cannot abandon mining because, since we stopped being hunter-gatherers, we use it and with increasing uses“, Requejo has insisted,“so defending that we stop practicing it is like defending that we stop living as we are doing“.

What this specialist has recognized is that mining "in general terms" it is "essentially unsustainable, in the sense that the extracted resource cannot be exploited again", Which is why he has made a call to continue developing it"in a responsible way“.

In this sense, it must be remembered that the current mining law in Spain dates from 1973, so that “requires adaptation to new times"That allows to propose scenarios of greater control, in which the extraction companies assume the costs"both environmental impact and social risks and territorial development”Derived from mineral exploitation.

A new model of territorial development

This will be achieved with a mining "that applies the best techniques to minimize environmental impact ”and that at the same time deploys“ a new model of territorial development" that "after 15 or 30 years of useful life"Of a farm, allow the territory to have"a production and consumption structure much more adapted to your needs“.

Furthermore, it is more useful to promote mining enclaves in peripheral territories, where “income and employment levels are usually very low", so that "once the mining activity is finished, the area can have an economic model that allows its economic autonomy“.

Combining mining with the natural environment requires, due to his experience, the preparation of studies on habitats, fauna and flora as well as other environmental impact, the environmental integration of energy facilities, the development of compensatory measures for the impact on the environment, the environmental monitoring of the works and environmental monitoring of the exploitation.

Mining activities are developed in "unique geological environments"That usually have associates"habitats and populations of unique fauna and flowers, frequently threatened“, Among which the cave-dwelling bats-bats and some species of endemic flora stand out.
To carry out the pertinent studies in these places it is necessary to use specialized techniques such as sonometric analysis of ultrasound for identification of bats.

It is also necessary to develop urban and hydrological-hydraulic studies considering five types of territorial capital: natural, built, human, social and image.

There must be a balance between these five dimensions of territorial capital ”for a mining activity to be“ effectively classified as sustainable ”, Requejo has concluded.

Among the interventions of Key Technical Assistance over the last 25 years are the studies prepared for the Las Cruces and Los Frailes (Seville), Lomero-Poyatos (Huelva) and Sibelco (Cádiz) mines.


Video: The Environmental Impact of Lithium Extraction w. Vivas Kumar (July 2021).