Sample Research Paper on Impacts of Mining in Mount Nimba

Abstract

This research undertook to investigate the impacts of mining in mount Nimba, this formed the thesis statement. This was a secondary inquiry that undertook to conduct a comprehensive writings appraisal and document scrutiny. It was established that mining activities around the region impacted negatively on the environment by disrupting the biodiversity and nature. Moreover, it was discovered that mining leads to erosion and deposition of heaps of surface soil that takes time to clear long after completion of mining. In addition, excavating in the region disrupts the water-table and streams leading to contamination and thus instigating diseases. Recommendations suggested include recycling products, improving land use and putting in legislation for sustainable mining practices.

Introduction

Mount Nimba is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna and has therefore been eluded to be an extremely important area in terms of biological diversity. It is pointed out that development plans of the region should carefully ponder on the delicate balance between environment and economic growth. For instance, thereare increased threats facing the wildlife in the region despite conservation plans that have been implemented. It has been established that pressing actions are needed to guarantee the existence of West African wildlife like the chimpanzees. As a matter of fact, the region around Nimba Mountains is already facing major threats for the conservation of its biodiversity. It has been established that numerous places across the reserve are under burden from potential mining of iron ore, environment demolition mainly due to cultivation and indiscriminative poaching using snares and firearms. It is evident that the mining at Nimba Mountains involves excavating of more than 500 million tonnes of iron ore from three open pits located in the northern portion of the Nimba Mountains in Eastern Guinea, West Africa. It has been established that the mining franchise is located within a World Heritage Site that has been classified as a natural reserve. It has been ascertained that the climatic impacts also affect the biodiversity of the region and have been recognized by diverse environmental authorities(Liberia et al, 2004).It is believed that any potential impacts of the mining operations needs to be addressed amicably.

The thesis statement will help answer the research question: What are the impacts of the mining in Mount Nimba to the environment? This paper will provide an overview of the current state of mining in the region and the relationship that it exhibits with the environment. To highlight on the vitalityimpacts the paper will provide a description of the mining in the region and impacts that they have exhibited on the environment. This will help in tracing out issues and focusing the attention on the impacts of the mining activities to the wildlife and to ultimately aid in pinning down issues.

This research sought to provide evidence that exists and the dynamic role it the impacts play in the environment and the biodiversity. It has been asserted that ideally the most significant impact of a mining project is its effects on water quality and availability of water resources within the mining area(Liberia et al, 2004).Moreover, it is alleged that there are other impacts that mining activities will have on the environment. The investigation has employed a thorough review of literature and secondary document analysis to gain insights on the impacts that mining in Nimba has on the environment.

Using the information and knowledge from the investigation, environmental strategists will be in a position to recommend the best practices on how to mine with great consideration to the environment. For instance, this information will be useful in forcing mining companies to embrace corporate social responsibilities. In light of this, the companies would give back to the community through a series of programs aimed at improving the environment and the lifestyle of the people. The impacts of mining activities to the environment will provide a road map for the discussions in this paper. It is presumed that impacts that mining impart on the environment is huge and that they need to be addressed.

Mount Nimba Nature Reserve

It has been pointed out that mount Nimba is located on the borders of Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire; it upsurges above the adjoining savannah.They act as home for the unique wildlife especially rich flora and fauna, with prevalent species such as the viviparous toad and chimpanzees that use stones as tools. A water tower is evident and is believed to contain about fifty springs that exists between Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. From available data, it has been discovered that this reserve is dominated by a series of mountains that climax at 1,752 m altitude at Mount Nimba. In addition, the slopesconcealed with impenetrable forest at the lower levels, with grassy mountain pastures, runoff with particularly rich rife flora and fauna.  Environmentalists have established that it is spreading over a total of area of 17,540 hawith 12,540 ha in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Cote d’voire the property is integrated into the opensphere of the two States.

It has been established that the reserve-comprises unique and varied species of the most remarkable animal and plant populations in the entire African continent; notably threatened species such as the chimpanzees that use stones as tools. Moreover, part of the rare mountainous chains of West Africa, Mount Nimba rises brusquely to an altitude of 1,752 metersoverhead a rolling landscape and giving way to forested plains at the lower altitudes. Other features include montane forests that make the landscape of the Gulf of Guinea an excellent site from the organicviewpoint. Its geographical characteristics and its sub-equatorial climate of strong seasonal and altitudinal contrasts produce a rich variety of microclimates. This issue has contributed to the individualization of an isolated plant and fauna population providing a dynamic and excellent varied ecosystem. Other scholars have eluded that the unique geographical and climatic location of the mountain combined with its background provides the Nimba shackle with one of the most extraordinary assortments of the whole West African region.

It is believed that in the Guinean part, acommune where mining has occurred is directly adjacent to the property. Even if this exploitation is technically outside the property, it remains questionable as to whether it may be worked without affecting the integrity of the reserve. It has been alleged that the ridge is threatened by enlargedstressend-to-end to the boundaries of the site, caused by the neighboring inhabitants and amplified demographic pressure. It has been pointed out that although the natural forests that cover the slopes of Nimba have not suffered much damage, on the contrary, the fauna has been the subject of very extreme poaching by the locals. It is believed that the necessity for land for agriculture and cattle breeding has wired the traditional practice of clearing by fire. When such fires are used to clear land the protected areas are damaged and thus forming part of management problem in the reserve. As a matter of fact, the contribution of the neighboringpopulace in preservationprocedures is crucial to remedy these problems. Lastly, the scrutiny of the reserve must be guaranteed to deter the practices that impair its integrity. Additionally, the capabilities of the management must be strengthened both at the mechanical and human resource intensities as well as the financial means.

Nimba Mining

It has been established that the controlling company of the mine is Sable Mining that has an important attention in an investigation permit in the Mount Nimba area of south-east Guinea(Liberia et al, 2004).It is believed that Nimba iron-ore deposit is positioned in the far north-west of Liberia, close to the boundary intersection with Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire (Liberia et al, 2004).Through this acquisition the company commenced investigation activities to assess the resource potential of the project and demonstrate its viability for commercial production in the short term. It is the preliminary study that was completed in 2014 that demonstrated a commercial endowment grade iron-ore development project that led to mining in the region. The location of the mine is approximately 50km from a multi-user standard gauge railway with spare capacity, which extends 270km from Nimba to the deep water port on the Liberian coast at Port Buchanan(Liberia et al, 2004).2 meters is an in-situ grade of 57.8% Fe estimated at a Fe cut-off of 40% from prospects Plateau 2 and Plateau 3, and this makes Nimba to distinguish itself as one of the most commercially attractive undeveloped iron ore assets in West Africa. In addition, tests that have been carried out have pointed that limited to the Planetaya area of Plateau 2, have indicated a 40% lump: 60% fines ratio in the consolidated zone of the lithology, and 15% lump: 85% fines ratio in the unconsolidated zone.

Figure showing the location

Source: UNESCO

Findings and analysis

This section discusses the potential impacts of mining activities and provides analysis of the findings that were established from the study. It has been discovered that mineral resources in Republic of Guinea are very significant and expanded. Because of this assertion many international mining companies are already exploiting bauxite, cement, gold, diamonds, iron and salt, but many others like graphite, limestone, manganese, nickel or uranium are still untapped. Due to the exploitation, in 2004, all sectors of mining had contributed to a considerable amount of incometo the GDP in Guinea.

Table showing Macro‐economic contribution of the mining sector

Source: UNESCO

Economists have affirmed that Guinea, being one of the poor counties, it was considered as the most important sector in terms of income generation and exportation. The study found out that Simandou range and Mount Nimba are amongst the highest quality of iron deposits known in the world estimated to be between 66% and 68%. Research data has found out that the cleanest iron ore deposit is restricted in the northern part of the Guinea part of the Nimba Mountains where a mining reserve has been enclosed. Available data has affirmed that at present they are drilling in the mining reserve to outline exactly the viability and probable sub-sites of utilization.

Table showing mining coverage in Guinea

Source: UNESCO

Researchers have established that mining have theatrical consequences on the environment and on chimpanzees in the region. Consequently, resulting invasion of people will upsurge the pressure for cultivation, causing a decrease in unplanted time, further deforestation and higher habitat infringement. In addition, mining would likely cause erosion, water pollution and consequent deterioration of swamp-agriculture rice yields (Gardnerand Sainato,2007). It is opined that this harshly affect local populace who would instead generate income through other ways like poaching, hunting and cutting down of the forest.

The study has discovered that a leading cause of rapid and global biodiversity loss in developing countries is the habitat destruction, much of which is due to widespread agricultural development. Specifically in Guinea, habitat destruction has been recognized as one of the most significant factor affecting the chimpanzee survival, by leading to the disintegration of forest block and therefore separation of the inhabitants. This is attributed to the fact that mining will destroy the environment through agents of disintegration and erosion making the locals to resort to other forms of income generation like clearing forests and poaching. Analysis for this assertion point to two factors being responsible; the slashing and burning in Guinea is getting more and more intimidating for the environment. Secondly, the profitable utilization of the forestry is also a major threat, notwithstanding it occurs only at little gauge in Guinea.

The study has found out that mining in Nimba has led to increased poaching since it is asserted that chimpanzee hunting exists in some regions of Guinea but not in all. It is believed that several incentives can lead a local person to hunt a chimpanzee. Majorly they are hunted for meat while others kill them for attacking their crops and in period of scarcity of fruits in the forest food become scarce. It is believed that conflicts that arise between human and the animals lead to their death in the process of competing for the scarce resources (Gardnerand Sainato,2007).Excessive mining at Nimba is known to have destroyed land meant for agriculture thereby leading human to find more spaces to settle.

It has been established that fumes and gases generated from the process of mining leads to death from respiratory diseases. Recent statistics have indicated that in November 2003, all members of the Bossou community suffered from an outbreak of respiratory disease which resulted in the confirmed death of four individuals. It has been discovered that mining activities in the region leads to release of toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil, air and water. Scientists have discussed that the effects and impacts of mining to the respiratory system of humans persists for years even after the coals has been exploited. The study has identified that poisons are released on the environment through bad mining practices ignites coal fires, which can burn for decades, release fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals. In addition, mining activities at Nimba releases coal mine methane, a greenhouse gas that is twenty times more dangerous that carbon dioxide. Moreover, dust from extraction of coal causes black lung disease among miners and those who live nearby, and mine accidents kill thousands every year apart from displacing communities and forcing them off their lands.

The study has discovered that Mining at Nimba has caused huge amounts of waste earth and rock to be brought to the surface and other studies have argued that such wastes that often becomes toxic when it comes into contact with air and water.It has been ascertained that in the process of drilling the surface land subsidence occurs that makes the surface to collapse and cause serious damages to buildings (Gardnerand Sainato,2007). In addition, it leads to lowering of the water table thereby changing the groundwater and streams to disrupt human activities. Geologists have alluded to the fact that eradicating so much water generates a kind of funnel that pipes water from an area much larger than the close coal-mining environment (Pond et al, 2008).

Recommendations

The study has found out that there are diverse impacts that mining imparts to the environment, though, it is believed that mining can become more environmentally sustainable by developing and integrating practices that reduce the environmental impact of mining operations in Nimba mine. The study therefore recommends that the community can simply reduce the negative impacts by reducing the consumption of products manufactured by minerals. It is believed that the idea of consuming fewer products will lead to reduced use of resource and this can be accomplished through efficient resource use, but also by simply using less and recycling more.

To reduce the loss of fauna and flora around the mine region, the study recommends material substitution where Guinea and the businesses within can discover ways of intelligent use of goods and services through use of less wood, metal, stone, plastic, and other materials. It is ascertained that by decreasing extravagant use, and by routing production toward durable goods that are easy to reuse, remanufacture, or recycle, a few pioneering firms are recasting the role of materials in our lives. It is recommended that some businesses need to shift out of manufacturing and become spreaders of services-dramatically lowering levels of materials use. It has been recognized that as a fact most industries engage practices that are unsustainable, some nations, international organizations, and environmental groups are calling for major reductions in materials use-often by as much as 90 percent.

To reduce severe and irreparable toll on public health like lung diseases, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and community interests,recycling should be done (Pond et al, 2008).It is believed that when individuals fail to use recycled materials there is a tendency of individuals attributing this act to the distortionary subsidies for virgin minerals extraction, which make it cheaper to dig up new minerals than to reuse aboveground stocks. It has been established through research that that recycling for instance, takes far less energy to recycle discarded materials than to extract, process, and refine metals from coal ore in Nimba. In light of this argument, it is mentioned that it takes 95% less energy to produce aluminum from recycled materials rather than from bauxite ore (Pond et al, 2008).

It was discovered that extreme mining in the region of Nimba had resulted to the sinking of the land, it is therefore recommended that individuals and organizations involved in the mining practices need to improve the environmental performance. In fact, it has been confirmed that mining moves enormous quantities of earth; altogether, it strips more of the Earth’s surface each year than natural erosion by rivers does. Moreover, mining at Nimba mountains also use large amounts of chemicals in processing and results in significant emissions to air and water. It is therefore thought that by thoroughly investigating environmental impacts and espousing measures to lessen these impacts, it is possible to make mining less disparaging to the environment. This can better be addressed through principles and better enforcement of existing regulations to improve environmental performance in mining. These regulations need to cover on wearing of protective devices like masks so as to protect those involved in the mining activities.

Conclusion

It has been discovered through the study that activities arising from mining in Nimba region of Guinea have potential negative effects on the environment. These impacts range from destruction of the delicate natural environment and all its inhabitants and from the analysis it is important to note that mining activities have the potential of wiping out fauna and flora from the environs (Pond et al, 2008).It is therefore paramount for individuals and companies to embrace activities of mining that will lead to sustainable exploitation of the environment.

 

References

Burns, S. (2005).  Bringing Down the Mountains: the Impact of Mountaintop Removal Surface

Coal Mining on Southern West Virginia Communities. Ph.D. dissertation. West Virginia University. Retrieved 2016-04-21.

Gardner, S. and Sainato,P. (2007). Mountaintop mining and sustainable development in

            Appalachia, Mining Engineering, p.48-55.

Liberia., Liberia., Global Environment Facility., & United Nations Development Programme.

(2004). National biodiversity strategy and action plan, March 2004. Monrovia?: Environmental Protection Agency.

Pond, P.J.; et al. (2008). Downstream effects of mountaintop coal mining: comparing biological

conditions using family- and genus-level macro invertebrate bio-assessment tools.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society 27 (3): 717–737.