For those who are unfamiliar, strip mining is a form of surface mining that focuses on the collection of tar sand and coal, which both rest somewhat close to Earth’s surface. Those who support strip mining point to the increased ease of access and all of its attendant benefits. Detractors point to the controversies surrounding this method. The following is a closer examination of the pros and cons.
The Pros of Strip Mining
1. High Recovery Rate
Other forms of mining do not guarantee the same rate of return as strip mining does. Materials are recovered at a rate of up to 90 percent during strip mining, which is a much higher recovery rate than most forms of mining can promise. Tunnel mining, for instance, only offers users a potential recovery rate of 50 percent.
2. Strip Mining Is Faster
Most other mining techniques require the digging of tunnels, which adds additional time to the process. Strip mining does not rely on the digging of tunnels and since the route to the surface is much shorter, this also cuts down on the amount of time spent. Retrieving minerals and transporting them is much simpler when using strip mining methods.
3. Much Less Expensive
Since strip mining has an easier process and a higher recovery rate, this leads to much lower costs across the board. Production costs can be slashed across the board and less safety precautions need to be taken, which also leads to a decrease in costs. It is one of the most, if not the most, inexpensive mining format currently available to us.
The Cons of Strip Mining
1. Bad For The Environment
Strip mining can have unwanted effects on the natural ecosystem of the area where the mining is taking place. Plant and animal life is often killed off, taking years to regenerate. In addition to the death of plants and animals, the land also experiences increased susceptibility to erosion and flooding.
2. Contamination Of Water
Material is often excavated during strip mining and the solvents used for this extraction leaks into the drinking water in the area where the strip mining is taking place. It is also impossible to conduct strip mining without releasing a great deal of toxins and pollutants into the surrounding atmosphere, which also leads to increased water contamination. Dust often settles in the water, as well.
3. Significant Upfront Investment
While strip mining’s overall costs are much cheaper than other mining methods, the initial outlay of cash may be more than a governing body is willing to spend. Hiring a professional, experienced staff and obtaining all of the necessary equipment leads to higher costs than some may be prepared to deal with. Money is saved on the back end when it comes to strip mining, not the front end.