Mining in the United States
Mining in the United States has been active since the beginning of colonial times, but became a major industry in the 19th century with a number of new mineral discoveries causing a series of mining rushes. In 2015, the value of coal, metals, and industrial minerals mined in the United States was US $109.6 billion. 158,000 workers were directly employed by the mining industry.
The mining industry has a number of impacts on communities, individuals and the environment. Mine safety incidents have been important parts of American occupational safety and health history. Mining has a number of environmental impacts. In the United States, issues like mountaintop removal, and acid mine drainage have widespread impacts on all parts of the environment. As of January 2020. the EPA lists 142 mines in the Superfund program.
History [ edit ]
- Carolina Gold Rush, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, US (1799)
- Georgia Gold Rush, Georgia, US (1828)
- California Gold Rush, California (1848–1855)
- Pikes Peak Gold Rush, Pikes Peak, Colorado (1859)
- Holcomb Valley Gold Rush, California (1860)
- Black Hills Gold Rush, Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming (1874–1878)
- Mount Baker Gold Rush, Whatcom County, Washington, United States (1897–1920s)
- Nome Gold Rush, Nome, Alaska (1899–1909)
- Fairbanks Gold Rush, Fairbanks, Alaska (1902–1905)
Mining by commodity [ edit ]
Top Commodities mined in the US, 2015
|Rank||Commodity||Value, US$ billion|
|4||Industrial Sand and Gravel||$8.3|
|7||Construction Sand and Gravel||$7.2|
|Source: US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodities Summaries, 2016.|
Mining by mineral [ edit ]
- Bauxite mining in the United States
- Coal mining in the United States
- Copper mining in the United States
- Gold mining in the United States
- Iron mining in the United States
- Molybdenum mining in the United States
- Phosphate mining in the United States
- Silver mining in the United States
- Uranium mining in the United States
- Zinc mining in the United States
Mining by state [ edit ]
- Category:Mining in Alaska
- Category:Mining in Arizona
- Category:Mining in California
- Category:Mining in Colorado
- Category:Mining in Michigan
- Category:Mining in Minnesota
- Category:Mining in Nevada
- Category:Mining in Pennsylvania
- Category:Mining in West Virginia
Mining accidents [ edit ]
From 1880 to 1910, mine accidents claimed thousands of fatalities. Where annual mining deaths had numbered more than 1,000 a year during the early part of the 20th century, they decreased to an average of about 500 during the late 1950s, and to 93 during the 1990s. In addition to deaths, many thousands more are injured (an average of 21,351 injuries per year between 1991 and 1999), but overall there has been a downward trend of deaths and injuries.
The Monongah Mining Disaster was the worst mining accident of American history; 362 workers were killed in an underground explosion on December 6, 1907 in Monongah, West Virginia. The U.S. Bureau of Mines was created in 1910 to investigate accidents, advise industry, conduct production and safety research, and teach courses in accident prevention, first aid, and mine rescue. The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Acts of 1969 and 1977 set further safety standards for the industry.
In 1959, the Knox Mine Disaster occurred in Port Griffith, Pennsylvania. The swelling Susquehanna river collapsed into a mine under it and resulted in 12 deaths. In Plymouth, Pennsylvania, the Avondale Mine Disaster resulted in the deaths of 108 miners and two rescue workers after a fire in the only shaft eliminated the oxygen in the mine. Federal laws for mining safety ensued this disaster. Pennsylvania suffered another disaster in 2002 at Quecreek, 9 miners were trapped underground and subsequently rescued after 78 hours. During 2006, 72 miners lost their lives at work, 47 by coal mining. The majority of these fatalities occurred in Kentucky and West Virginia, including the Sago Mine Disaster. On April 5, 2010, in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster an underground explosion caused the deaths of 29 miners.
Environmental impact [ edit ]
Mining has environmental impacts at many stages in the process and production of mining. In the United States, man different regions in the United States have environmental challenges caused by either historical or current mining.
Mountain top removal [ edit ]
Mountaintop removal mining (MTR), also known as mountaintop mining (MTM), is a form of surface mining at the summit or summit ridge of a mountain. Coal seams are extracted from a mountain by removing the land, or overburden, above the seams. This method of coal mining is conducted in the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. Explosives are used to remove up to 400 vertical feet (120 m) of mountain to expose underlying coal seams. Excess rock and soil is dumped into nearby valleys, in what are called "holler fills" ("hollow fills") or "valley fills". Less expensive to execute and requiring fewer employees, mountaintop removal mining began in Appalachia in the 1970s as an extension of conventional strip mining techniques. It is primarily occurring in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.The practice of mountaintop removal mining has been controversial. The coal industry cites economic benefits and claims that mountaintop removal is safer than underground mining. Published scientific studies have found that mountaintop mining has serious environmental impacts that mitigation practices cannot successfully address. A high potential for human health impacts has also been reported.
Abandoned mines [ edit ]
There are 10,000s of abandoned mines in the United States. Many abandoned mines pose environmental challenges, such as Acid mine drainage. In Colorado alone, there are 18,382 abandoned mines. The United States has had many different environmental disasters caused by these mines, such as the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. Many superfund sites are mines. As of January 2020[update]. the EPA lists 142 mines in the Superfund program
Controversies [ edit ]
Mines are often controversial in their local areas, with local residents split by those in favor particularly due to the economic impact of new jobs and those concerned by the environmental impact and occupational hazards. In the case of the proposed Crandon mine, the U.S. Supreme Court found that tribes have the right to regulate water and air, which destroyed the economic feasibility of the project.
See also [ edit ]
- List of mines in the United States
- Mine Safety and Health Administration
- United States Bureau of Mines
- Coal Wars
- Mine Owners' Association
- National Mining Hall of Fame
- Environmental issues with mining
- North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company, a prosecution in 1884 led to the Sawyer Decision, among the first environmental decisions in the United States
- Mountaintop removal#Legislation in the United States
References [ edit ]
- US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, 2016.
- US EPA, OLEM (2015-05-27). "Abandoned Mine Lands: Site Information". US EPA. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
- Historical Data on Mine Disasters in the United StatesArchived 2016-02-10 at the Wayback Machine U.S. Department of Labor
- All Mining Fatalities By StateArchived 2007-04-18 at the Wayback Machine U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, 15 January 2007
- Coal Fatalities By StateArchived 2007-02-21 at the Wayback Machine U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, 15 January 2007
- "Appeals Court Upholds Mountaintop Removal Mining". www.ens-newswire.com. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Mountaintop Mining/Valley Fills in Appalachia: Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement," issued 2005 June 25, available at http://www.epa.gov/region03/mtntop/index.htm (accessed 2006 August 20).
- "Mountaintop Mining and Valley Fills in Appalachia (MTM/VF) - Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement". Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- Sares, Matthew A.; Gusey, Daryl L.; Neubert, John T. (1999). "Abandoned Mines and Naturally Occurring Acid Rock Drainage on National Forest System Lands in Colorado" (PDF). www.coloradogeologicalsurvey.org. Colorado Geological Survey. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
- Bergquist, Lee. 2002. "Decision puts water quality in tribe's hands; Sokaogon can set standard near mine." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/4/2002, 1A.