Mining Activities and Associated Environmental Impacts in Arid Climates: A Literature Review

Douglas B. Sims, Peter S. Hooda, Gavin K. Gillmore


Mining operations have released measurable levels of geogenic trace metals (e.g. Cd, Cr, Pb), metalloids (e.g. As, Se), and anthropogenic chemicals (e.g. CN?, Hg) into surrounding sediments. Abandoned mining sites in hyperarid climates has not been the focus of much research compared to wet and temperate areas. Research has focused on historical mining sites in semiarid and wetter regions in the United States, south pacific and Europe. Those areas have obvious risks associated with them including aqueous phase mobilization as a result of abundant precipitation. However, many mining areas in the American Southwest and aboard are located in hyperarid regions and viewed as not having a potential for mobilization of contaminants. Seasonal storm events can mobilize sediments containing contaminates beyond a small, localized area and into the wider environment. Literature indicates that arid and hyperarid mining regions have not been studied as extensively as those in wetter climates.

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