Bauxite Mining

Follow the link below to learn more about the dangers of Bauxite Mining.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35340528

Dust can react with the air in atmosphere, causing various chemical reactions, affecting soil, hence health of plants; meteorological and local climate, as well as penetrating into vegetation depending on particle size8. Dust can also dissolve in water, and flows down the food chain, where it is ingested by humans, or aquatic animals8. Bauxite dust is visible due to high iron oxide content, having red colour which contaminates clothes, properties, vegetation, food and water sources1

It is classified for occupational hygiene purposes as a ‘nuisance dust’ (coarse particles that decrease environmental amenity, damages machinery, decreases visibility, or acts as an irritant substance) or a “particle not otherwise specified”3, 8. Bauxite dust is detrimental because it can decrease visibility and result in visual changes to the environment8. It can be deposited into machinery, reducing their life cycle and overall productivity.

Bauxite dust is inhalable (respirable), and defined as dust particles less than 10μm in diameter or particulate matter of PM10and PM2.510. In Kuantan, 24-hour level from 167-277 μg/during December 2015, which exceeds Malaysian National Ambient Air Quality Standard-201510. There is ‘no safe level’ for as per the World Health Organization, because these particles can deposit in the alveoli during respiration and cause increased hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular problems,10. Apart from damage to lungs, nose and throat, the eyes and exposed skin are at risk, as well as gastrointestinal tract.

In some, it can also cause allergic reactions such as asthma or eczema. Impact on Water Sources

Most of the surface water in the world consists of streams, rivers, springs, ponds and lakes. These water sources closely interact with soil and rocks on the aforementioned surface, temperature and pH of environment, influencing adsorption and desorption of inorganic and organic matters Water contamination by bauxite mining activities, especially drinking water sources, has the potential to cause harm due to components such as iron and aluminium as well as other toxic heavy metals found in trace amounts (arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, manganese and mercury)8. This is especially true for heavy mining activities which have been aggressively carried out.

The most significant impact of heavy metals on the river is on sediments, aquatic organisms, and the water itself. Heavy metals do not degrade, depositing in sediments to be taken up by plants, animals or by feeding benthic animals13. According to a Chinese study conducted on a river exposed to mining, concentrations of heavy metals in sediments were 1000-100,000 times greater than water whereas concentration was 10-1000 times higher in fish and benthic invertebrate. Fishes come into contact with heavy metals through water, via breathing and food chain. Heavy metals are mobilized in water, are flushed downstream and deposited into clay minerals, or absorbed by algae at the lower trophic levels of food chain. As heavy metals accumulate, this leads to critical levels, causing more problems by affecting organisms at higher food chains.

Production of acidic water from mining activities can increase solubility of heavy metals and harm the aquatic ecosystems, especially at pH 5 and below. Heavy metals can be introduced to groundwater by agricultural and industrial activities, mining, and land filling, impacting drinking water and irrigation source. As heavy metals leach into soil and water, they can be released into air by surface erosion.

In Kuantan, the river water near bauxite mining sites is the essential source for surrounding communities and there are several treatment plants located nearby. Pollution of rivers by bauxite processing plants have resulted in closure of treatment plants. Water samples taken from nearby residences have exceeded the Health Ministry’s aluminium levels of 0.20mg/L while mercury levels were 0.0093mg/L, nine times above the recommended level for raw water.

However, continuous drinking water monitoring by Pahang State Health Department has reported that the concentration of aluminium and iron in drinking water has yet to exceed the National Drinking Water Quality Standard. Impact on Soil Soil is one of the most important elements in the ecosystem as it provides nutrients for the plants and is also the major site of degradation and transference of biomass. Soil can form solid phase where it comprises mostly minerals and organic matters; or fluid phase when it interacts with water. All of these phases involve ions interacting and entering the soil system.

The excessive presence of heavy metals in soil is detrimental, as it inhibits such processes and biodegradation of organic contaminants In addition, higher soil contaminants lower its fertility.

This can impact agricultural activity and decreases food quality and ultimately causing food shortage. The quality of soil is determined by the presence of organic carbon. In a study conducted on Indian bauxite mines, mining soil showed low levels of carbon along with low nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are essential for healthy plant growth. Moreover, soil in bauxite mines have high levels of Al (as bauxite ore is essentially Al2O3, Fe2O3and SiO2), limiting the growth of microbes in soil.

Without microbiological activity, nutrients are not released into soil, restricting plant growth in acidic soil. This prevents post-mining biological land reclamation. However, if there is contact of limestone and soil due to bauxite refining process, the reclaimed soil will be alkaline instead. Comparing reclaimed and un-mined bauxite lands, it is found that the major difference between the two is the depth of soil. Un-mined lands have deeper soil, which supports deep-rooted trees and agricultural crops; while reclaimed soil has approximate depth of 15cm or less and can only support a limited number of crops.

Studies have shown that vegetable crops, root crops and legumes require a minimum of 30cm, which is lacking in reclaimed land. In addition, open cast bauxite mining creates artificial pits with large volume of calcareous debris; this destabilizes the environmental balance by changing the geo-morphological processes.

Land clearing processes before mining, such as deforestation, forest fires, opening up new road networks for better access and waste disposal, lead to habitat destruction and soil erosion. This can further result in loss of bio-diversity, water pollution and increased turbidity.

These effects can be short-term, requiring a sizable amount of time and resources to restore or can be severe to become irreversible. Impact of Bauxite-contaminated Soil on Food Products Bauxite-contaminated soil can be detrimental to health, as its contents can contaminate soil and water sources used in agriculture. Food products has been identified as a major pathway for human exposure to heavy metals compared with inhalation of soil particles, skin contact and drinking water.

Heavy metals can easily be taken up by vegetable roots and get accumulated at high levels in edible parts, although vegetable species differ in their ability to take up and concentrate heavy metals.

Heavy metals that can accumulate in plant products include lead, cadmium and arsenic.For instance, cadmium in soil can be mobilized and readily absorbed by plants and crops. This was seen in a Jamaican study, where crops from previous bauxite mining site contained high level of cadmium. Cadmium not only accumulates in plants, but also leaches into water supply and sources where it gets deposited in aquatic animals, which are later consumed by the community. Chronic consumption of cadmium causes kidney and bone damage, cancer, low birth weight and spontaneous abortion. Thus concerns should be raised regarding reclaimed bauxite mining sites for agricultural purposes. Other issues include leaching of heavy metals into soil.

Heavy metals can accumulate in crops. Among different crops planted in various locations, sweet potatoes showed the highest lead concentration, which is beyond the safety level of 0.1mg/kg indicated by CODEX19. Lead poisoning is lethal, causes neurological disorders, as well as debilitating reproductive disorders and diminished intelligence after ingestion in children or newborns.

Follow The link below to see that is happening in Guinea because of bauxite mining.

https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/10/04/what-do-we-get-out-it/human-rights-impact-bauxite-mining-guinea

Air pollution

Dust emissions (large particles ranging 1-10 μm, fine particles ranging 0.1-1μm) leading to cardiovascular and respiratory problemsGelencser A KN et.al Reduced FEV1 after dust exposure (≥100mg/m3) of 20 years among non-smokers Donogue AM et.al. Water pollution Leaching of iron, aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, manganese and mercury into drinking water sources

High concentration of heavy metals in sediments, which are deposited in the water, further dissolves and deposits into fish and benthic invertebrates, in which levels are 10-1000 higher than in normal water pollution Soil contamination of heavy metals decrease microbial activities which lowers its fertility.

Low levels of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium in post-mining soil in India.

Insufficient soil depth for agriculture (<15cm) habitat destruction and soil erosion contamination.

Lead, cadmium, arsenic accumulation in vegetables.

High levels of lead found in sweet potato, exceeding CODEX safety limit of 0.1mg/kgWright V JS et.al.

Is money worth the destruction of the environment and the deterioration of human health?

Governments know what the consequences of mining are but they are so obsessed with acquiring money that they are willing to put the environment and the health of their people at risk for the sake of money.

It is never about the environment or the people it is always about how much money can be made. Then there is the enormous pressure exerted by the hegemonic powers which have no interest if the environment of the health of people.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies care that the water resources of Cockpit Country will be contaminated, that the forest will disappear, that rain forests successfully recycles approximately 32% of the precipitation it receives and that when the forest is gone, the rains will abate, the rivers will not only be polluted but they will get smaller and will no longer be able to fulfill the needs of the thousands of people who depend on their sources.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies care that because of the nature of the Cockpit Country and that constant rainfall is necessary to keep the underground reservoirs and aquifers replenished.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies care that the earth will be contaminated by what is called “Red Mud” and there will be less fertile soil for the farmers to grow their crops.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies care about the deleterious effect mining will have on the incredible biodiversity of the Cockpit Country.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies care about the respiratory and other health hazards mining will have on the people of the Cockpit Country.

Jamaica do you believe that the mining companies know or care that the Cockpit Country is the home of the legendary Maroons and they do not want mining in their home.

Jamaica, my home, my people do you believe that billions of dollars is worth the sacrifice of such an indispensable national treasure as the Cockpit Country?

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