Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena in Bhubaneswar, December 14, 2018: Mines all over the world are the store house of the minerals, which are the main raw materials of various energy and metal producing industries. In addition to minerals, mines also possess other important natural resources like water, forest and various types of wild animals.

During mining of minerals, in many cases because of the application of backdated technology, a large amount of minerals are lost along with the wastes like over burden and rocks and at the same time, the valuable forest and water resources in the area are also destroyed considerably. Similarly, the mineral based industries such as iron and steel, aluminium, copper, nickel and thermal power plants and other non-ferrous metal industries which are very vital for our socio economic development are operating with release of large amounts of soild wastes and effluents to the environment.

The solid wastes and effluents of mining and mineral based industries pollute the land, water bodies and air in and around the areas considerably. Therefore, the wastes and effluents have to be properly managed in order to protect us and other living beings from various dreadful diseases caused due to these. In view of this, it has been essential to manage, the mines and mineral based industries in an integrated manner with zero waste approach so that, in addition to utilizing the mineral resources judiciously, the forest, water and other natural resources can be conserved, developed and consumed properly.

In India, as well as in most of the other developing countries, even in this 21st century, with rapid development of environment friendly technology, the mining is carried out in most cases in a very unsystematic and unscientific manner resulting in loss of colossal amounts of low grade minerals along with damaging considerably the water and forest resources of the region.

Very little care is taken to properly utilize the mine wastes as well as rehabilitating the displaced families. Again, in the mineral based industries, a large amount of solid wastes and effluents are generated polluting the nearby water bodies, the air and the land. As a result of these, the benefits of the industrialization are very much annulled due to this environmental pollution which causes a lot of harm to human and other living beings.

It may be mentioned here that, about forty years back, the author planned a programme on “Integrated Development of Mine Areas (IDMA) with zero waste approach”. The programme was demonstrated under his leadership at a chromite mine at Sukinda belonging to Odisha Mining Corporation, Government of Odisha, and a Lime stone mine at Lambidhar belonging to the state of Uttkarkhand. Though both the programmes were demonstrated successfully and appreciated very much, but unfortunately the programme was not pursued in any of these or other mines in the country.

With the development of proper infrastructural facilities and application of environment friendly best available technology with zero waste approach, the mining and mineral based industries can flourish with the cooperation of all the stake holders and bring rapid socio economic developments for all.

It is very heartening to note that, because of the heavy pollution caused by the fossil fuel based industries, all over the world renewable energy resources from sun, wind and hydro power are being harnessed and used increasingly in mining and mineral based industries. In this regard, unfortunately very little has been done in India so far.

In view of these, it is suggested that, in our country, the mining and mineral based industries should be properly planned and operated scientifically using environment friendly best available technology. Keeping the above facts in view, it is suggested that, the following aspects should be taken into consideration to mine the minerals and operate the mineral based industries for our sustainable development.

1. Adoption of advance technologies in mining of all grades of minerals with necessary provision at the mine site to beneficiate the low grade ones and recover the mineral values from tailings and slimes,
2. Reclamation of the mined areas through proper implementation of mine closer plans,
3. Preservation of the top soil and utilizing these for afforestation of the barren areas in the mines, as well as developing social forestry in and around mineral based industries.
4. Protection of the existing water resources and harvesting rain water in mine pits and low – lying areas near mineral based industries.
5. Making use of the wastes of the mines and the mineral based industries as construction materials.
6. Adoption of best available technologies in the mineral – based industries and recovery of value added products from their wastes,
7. Harnessing renewable energy from sun and wind and utilizing in mining and mineral based industries, and
8. Rehabilitation of the displaced families, skill development, providing job opportunities particularly to the local people and protection of the environment through proper implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

*Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India

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