Copper is a naturally occurring substance found in rocks in the form of ore. In order for copper to be used it must go through the production process that transforms the are into copper that will be suitable for use. Copper mines, like most other mines, are owned mostly by multi-national corporations that often exploit the workers and people who live around them. Copper is a commodity that is vew important in today’s society and has many practical uses. however, the toll that it takes on the earth can be debated by some to be more hurtful than helpful.
“Many metals are found in mineral—containing ores in the earth’s crust and they are usually situated in remote areas. After they are mined ores undergo crushing, grinding, milling and various processes that require large volumes of water and chemicals to effectively extract the desired materials.” (Franke)
”Given the tiny amounts ofdesired metals contained in most ores, with an average ore grade for copper being 0.
5-1.0%, the rest of all the material mined will become stockpiled in the vicinity.” (Franke) Large amounts of the earth’s crust must be destroyed in order to obtain a very small amount of copper are. This proves that the process is ﬂawed and troublesome. Only a small amount of what miners dig up are actually used and the rest carelessly disposed of in nearby garbage piles. This is not good for the environment or the people who live nearby and depend on having a healthy environment.
They will be negatively affected by the piles of toxic waste and their run»off. “Due to weathering and exposure to air and rain, oxidation of metal sulﬁdes (usually pyrite) occurs within the stockpile and generated acidity — acid mine drainage (AMD) — a very common phenomena in copper mining.” (Franke)
Copper ore is gathered by ﬁrst drilling into the earth’s crust and using explosives to break down the ore into small enough pieces to be hauled and carried away for further production. Next the ore is taken to a mill where it goes through a process of grinding to make even smaller concentrated pieces. After the ore is ﬁnely ground it is treated in a chemical process that includes large amounts of water in order to extract the copper. When the copper is extracted it is chemically treated again to turn it into the copper that we know and use today. This entire process is extremely harmful to the environment because of the pollution it causes. This process is especially harmful to the water supply.