What are the environmental problems with extracting rock?

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besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the issues that I can see with extracting rock is the environmental damage that it does to the surrounding area. Machinery is moved in and habitat is moved out. Living things have to find a new place to live. Many times lakes are drained in order to get the material that is needed. I have been involved in many workshops that deal with rocks and minerals and I have visited many quarries. There is a large area that surrounds the quarry that has been essentially demolished in order to get the rock.

In addition, there are usually factories that surround the quarries as well so we need to look at what kind of environmental damage this causes as well. The good aspect of this is that many jobs are created.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Depends on what rock you are after.  There is no way not to disturb the landscape if you are mining/removing the support layers beneath it.  In coal mines today they use a very controversial practice called mountaintop removal mining, which utterly destroys the mountain and the surrounding area, often polluting it as well.

If you are mining uranium, there is no way to extract it without producing radioactive "tailings" which then become hazardous waste you have to dispose of.  The heavy metals and toxins which are released wash into watersheds and streams and affect populations of wildlife and humans that use those watersheds.

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