How Mine Waste Dumping is Poisoning Our Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes
Published: February 28, 2012
By: EARTHWORKS and MiningWatch Canada
From the executive summary:
Mining companies are dumping more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste each year into rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife. The amount of mine waste dumped annually is 1.5 times as much as all the municipal waste dumped in U.S. landfills in 2009.
Mine processing wastes, also known as tailings, can contain as many as three dozen dangerous chemicals including arsenic, lead, mercury and processing chemicals such as petroleum byproducts, acids and cyanide. Waste rock, the extra rock that does not contain significant amounts of ore, can also generate acid and toxic contamination. The dumping of mine tailings and waste rock pollutes waters around the world, threatening the drinking water, food supply and health of communities as well as aquatic life and ecosystems.
An investigation by Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada has identified the world’s waters that are suffering the greatest harm or are at greatest risk from dumping of mine waste