Minerals are naturally occurring elements or compounds that have been formed through slow inorganic processes. Modern civilization is based on the use and exploitation of mineral resources. Minerals can be metallic and non-metallic.
Minerals are not evenly distributed in the Earth. Some countries are rich in mineral deposits whereas others are devoid of it.
Use of mineral resources is an integral part and one of the key premises of development worldwide. With rapid increase in population and a more rapid increase in society’s development needs, the requirements for minerals have grown and diversified manifold.
Extraction of minerals is carried out through mining. Minerals are extracted from beneath the surface, processed, and used for different purposes.
Mineral resources, however, are exhaustible and finite, which means excessive use may affect their availability in the future.
Exploitation of Mineral Resources
Exploitation of mineral refers to the use of mineral resources for economic growth. Exploitation of mineral resources at a mindless speed to meet the growing needs of modern civilization has resulted in many environmental problems.
Although, the exploitation of minerals began at a slow pace during the industrial revolution in Western countries, during the 20th century, the exploitation of some minerals, especially the fossil fuels increased exponentially to meet the growing energy need. Today, about 80% of the world’s energy consumption is sustained by the extraction of fossil fuels, which consists of oil, coal, and gas.
Consequences of Exploitation of Mineral Resources.
Excessive exploitation of mineral resources has led to the following severe problems.
- Deforestation and desertification
- Extinction of species
- Rapid depletion of high grade minerals
- Forced migration
- Wastage of upper soil layer and vegetation
- Soil erosion and oil depletion
- Ozone depletion
- Greenhouse gas increase
- Environmental pollution
- Natural hazards, etc.