Mining — Friend or Foe?

Arnay Kathuria
2 min readApr 4, 2022

Anywhere in the world we go, we can find mines, quarries, and excavation methods with people removing rocks and minerals from the Earth. From rural China to Central Africa, all the way to localities in the Americas and Europe. Mining is everywhere. In terms of climate, is Mining just another problem or is there a solution somewhere in the caves, waiting to be dug up?

The Problem

So mining actually directly contributes to almost 7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Thats 4.5 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas from just mining. Where do these emissions come from? A lot of it comes from the machines used — mining, especially open pit, uses large pieces of equipment, as a way to keep people safe and get work done more efficiently. While a lot of this equipment is being switched to being ran by alternative energy, majority of these machines are not sustainable.

The Other Side

As we switch to a world low emissions and alternative energy, a lot of this world will ironically grow the supply for minerals. Things like aluminum, cobalt, lead and more are all very important in certain alternative energies like solar or wind.

Recycling minerals seems the way to go — but this will not meet the demand. This also raises another issue. Area where people are able to make sacrifices for climate — first world countries and communities won’t have a huge struggle to stop this mining. The demand will go up though. The mining won’t stop, it’ll just be moved to areas that are more vulnerable and stressed by the climate already, further destroying these areas such as the DRC or a lot of Asia. This will just fall back on the areas that reduced their mining, as these places will eventually collapse and the load will fall back.

What happens now?

Now, we have to find a way to change this. Think about it — we can’t change the fact that mining is bad for the environment. Of course, we can improve how harmful it is but at the end of the day, taking the Earth’s natural resources out is damaging no matter what.

So we have to find a way to eliminate the the use of rocks and minerals in our day to day life. Where are they mostly used and why?

Rocks and minerals are used in everything from coins, furniture, technology and almost all of the products we would use on the daily. We need to find alternatives and use them before it’s too late.