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Mining and Environment in Australia and South Africa Essay

Global Society and the Environment

Environmental and social impacts are summarized into four major divisions. These divisions are; management of waste, effects on biodiversity, secondary effects, and eradication of poverty. Australian and South African Governments have continued formulating policies that govern environmental laws. These policies include the protection of biodiversity and the ecosystem. It is well understood that environmental laws are formulated according to the major factors that contribute to environmental degradation. Environmental conservation can reduce poverty in society. Poverty can be alleviated when environmental sustainability is attained (Kirchgeorg & Winn, 2006).

Water life

In Australia, uranium mines which are the major sources of nuclear power have caused impacts on water life. Laws governing water pollution are at an advanced stage of implementation notwithstanding. In Australia and South Africa, there are a good number of wetlands recognized at international levels. There is a common law that regulates water use systems between these two countries (Godden, 2005). The legal systems of these water laws were developed in response to well-watered European climatic conditions. Issues concerning leakage of mining fluids that have high levels of uranium and Manganese can now be tackled easily guided by these laws.

Energy consumption

Mining activities are well known for consuming great amounts of energy. Most of the energy is used in heavy-duty trucks that are used for transportation, earth moving equipment, and in the processing of the mineral, especially in coal mines. In South Africa, the government has been involved in the creation of new regulatory and fiscal frameworks for mining (Campbell, 2003). In this framework, mining companies intend to produce electricity as a by-product.

Air pollution

The number of emissions produced by mining activities can cause large scale pollution. Pollution of air can cause the emergence of acid rain which is dangerous. It is therefore imperative for the systems in place to come up with policies that govern the legislature on air pollution. For instance, Australia has recently come up with policies requiring that all the industries involved in this should be licensed and monitored. (Queensland Government, 2010).

Effects on land

Mining usually curves the land thus creating a permanent change of the morphology of the land in question. Surface subsidence often occurs in places where underground mining of salt domes, gold, coal, and other minerals is practiced. Remediation measures for this problem include the formulation of policies that aim at preventing land subsidence. For instance, the stooping of underground mines can prevent this. This is practiced in South Africa especially in underground gold mines.

Effects of pollution on human life

Environmental degradation will always affect society in one way or another. For example higher than acceptable amounts of arsenic in underground water exposes human life to diseases. In both South Africa and Australia, there have been widespread changes in the laws concerning water policies (Godden 2005). However, the water reforms emanating from this legislature are still being implemented in both countries. The outcome of political factors, economic and social influences is what makes the difference between the two countries in the level of implementation of these laws.

Effects on the ecosystem

The causes of degradation of biodiversity are purely environmental. Deforestation, mining activities, and depletion of catchment areas are hazardous to the ecosystems. South Africa is still experiencing many challenges of impacts on the environment that cause negative changes in the ecosystem. Through Australia’s long-standing drought (2001-7), some specialists revealed that sustaining (communal) activities boosted local buoyancy against the depression linked to life loss (McMichael et al, 2008).

The loss of livelihood shows how environmental changes can adversely affect the resilience of the ecosystem. The structural organizations influencing environmental policies in Australia and South Africa are quite different. However, they all aim at achieving a common goal. Their goal is to minimize environmental pollution for sustainable economic growth (Firsova & Taplin, 2007).

Biodiversity and ecosystem should not be compromised. Thus the environment should be sustained. Sustainability is whereby the current needs are met with no compromise to the capability of generations to come in order for them to meet their own needs (Carroll & Buchheltz, 2009). Population increase builds up pressure on land such that forests get depleted thus taking a heavy toll on the ecosystem. Solutions to this problem involve land rehabilitation and conservation of forests.

Health and safety

It has been substantiated that trace elements such as arsenic, which are used in exploration mining are harmful to human beings if their levels exceed higher than normal values. Health and safety standards have to be formalized so that human beings and the environment are not endangered by anomalous occurrences of such elements. The environmental laws in South Africa and Australia are quite at an advanced stage. Most of the laws in the two countries have already been implemented while some are still going through the process.

The Australian ecological sustainability development bases its principles on the maintenance of life, improvement of life quality, and conserving natural resources. The greenhouse effect is caused by the emission of gases that deplete the ozone layer. This can end up causing skin cancer because of ultraviolet emissions (O’Brien & Leichenko, 2000).

Reference List

Campbell, B. (2003). Factoring in Government is not enough. Mining codes in Africa, Policy reform and corporate responsibility.

Carrol & Buchholtz, (2009). Global society and climate change.

Firsova, A & Taplin R, (2007). Australia and Russia; How do their environmental policy processes differ?

Godden, L (2005). Water Law Reforms in Australia and South Africa: Sustainability, Efficiency and Social Justice, Oxford University Press, Journal of environmental law (2005), Vol. 17.

Kirchgeorg M, & Winn, M, (2006). Sustainability marketing for the poorest of the poor. New York: John Wiley & sons.

McMichael, A et al, (2008). Global environmental change and health: impacts, Inequalities, and the health sector.

O’Brien, K & Leichenko R, (2000). Double exposure: assessing the impacts of climate Change within the context of economic globalization.

Queensland Government, (2010). Environmental and resource Management.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Mining and Environment in Australia and South Africa." February 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mining-and-environment-in-australia-and-south-africa/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Mining and Environment in Australia and South Africa'. 12 February.

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