We, the people, often forget that our planet Earth’s resources cannot and will not last indefinitely. Unfortunately, rarely do we stop to wonder what we are leaving for the generations to come. Coal mining, especially surface mining, causes temporary disturbance to huge areas of land. This leads to numerous environmental concerns which include coal dust, soil erosion, and destruction of biodiversity due to water, air and noise pollution. Steps have been taken to curtail these impacts by implementing pollution-control measures, rehabilitating the land after use while making sure that the neighborhood isn’t affected by the drastic outcome. In best of the practices today, environmental analysis is carried out to determine the present conditions and the potential threats in the future.
Transmission of Coal Dust
Major operations such as coal drilling, crushing and transportation leave coal dust on the horizontal surface, which is carried around by wind across the area as coal dust. Wind erosion could also arise by overfilling of wagons, leakage through the doors and residues left after unloading. Use of railway transportation with an open-top box leads to air pollution through dust emission, danger of catching fire, chemical leaching and other visual effects. They also destroy the photosynthesis capabilities of flora, which in turn affects the fauna feeding on them. However, the damage is not confined to land in particular and it may as well spread its hands on marine organisms.
The best way to control dust level is to spray water on the roads, conveyors and the stockpiles. Modern procedures employed in the coal industry include enhanced technique of loading the material or inclusion of fitting drills with collection systems in order to lessen the coal dust formation. An innovative way followed by a number of coal mining industries is purchasing some extra land within the radius of the coal mine, which acts as buffering zone. In this boundary, trees are planted to reduce the impact of mining activities on the neighborhood community. Some of the precautionary measures taken while operating at the site include;
· Training the workers how to reduce the emission of coal dust
· Stockpiling the coal within the ceiling level of the container and flattening it like a bed in order to prevent wind erosion.
· Regular Cleaning facilities that make sure no residues are left behind anywhere.
· Forecast of weather to determine whether the time is suitable to load or unload the material.
· Checking the wagon or the rail door for leakages, if there are any.
Most rail components have implemented veneering stations at intermediaries of load and unload point for covering the coal with a lean layer of polymer. This technique has been reported to reduce the coal dust formation by as much as 75% and is believed to be taken up by major coal industries around the world.
Coal mining is a short term utilization of land and hence it is imperative that healing of land takes place immediately after the operations have been done with. The best strategy employed today is incorporating the rehabilitation policy right before the land is subjected to use. Surface area can be of utmost importance for growing crops, cattle grazing and other relevant activities. Hence underground mining should be planned keeping in mind that the land stays in the best possible shape for future use.
The rehabilitation activities include contouring and shaping of piles, substitution of top-soil and planting of trees in addition to relocation of wildlife for a temporary period. The modern drainage system has been cautiously designed to revamp the land surface which is resistant to soil erosion and stable as it was before use. The coal mine industry makes all the possible efforts to monitor the reclamation process and forbids land use until it suits natural vegetation.
Coal is a natural non-renewable resource that has been explicitly exploited over the years. Even though it has been a black gold for mankind, the effect of extracting the same from the nature has affected the nature itself. There will come a time when we would be left with no coal at all, but definitely with loads of pollution causing a chaos in this god gifted environment.
Lana Wilde believes that raising awareness about the environment issues is only the first step in protecting our planet from irreversible exploration and destruction. One of the good practices can be found with the Australian Port of Brisbane and their ways of air quality protection.