What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mining?

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Mining gives people a portion of the resources needed for modern civilization, but it can also lead to environmental harm. While some are in favor of mining due to the resources it produces and the jobs it provides in the U.S., some are opposed to mining based on opposition to destructive mining practices and environmental concerns.

Humans need a wide range of natural resources to create the products modern civilization needs. While alternative forms of energy are becoming more viable, most nations need coal, natural gas and uranium to provide energy. Similarly, oil is necessary for powering vehicles and the transportation industry. Mining allows humans to use these resources.

Some mining practices are controversial. Mountaintop-removal mining, for example, allows mining companies to extract a significant amount of coal at a far lower cost, but its destructiveness has led to protections for the environment. Traditional forms of mining can be unsafe for workers. Fires and collapses can be deadly, and the health effects of mining can be devastating.

Others, however, object to mining in general. Because coal and oil release carbon dioxide when used as fuel, some argue that mining exacerbates global warming. Others object to mining for the rare Earth elements essential to computer parts. However, almost all experts of all political and moral stripes believe that mining will be necessary for decades but that slowly phasing it out might be a wise goal.