Operations and waste products associated with metal extraction and
processing are the principal causes of environmental concerns about
metal mining, which may
 Physically disturb landscapes as a result of mine workings, waste rock
and tailings disposal areas, and facility development.
 Increase the acidity of soils; such soils can be toxic to vegetation and
a source of metals released to the environment.
 Degrade surface and groundwater quality as a result of the oxidation
and dissolution of metal-bearing minerals.
 Increase air-borne dust and other emissions, such as sulfur dioxide
and nitrogen oxides from smelters, that could contaminate the
atmosphere and surrounding areas.
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Modern mining operations actively strive to mitigate these potential
environmental consequences of extracting metals. The key to effective
mitigation lies in implementing scientific and technological advances
that prevent or control undesired environmental impacts.