Opencast Mining

Opencast Mining
  • Opencast mining is a surface mining technique of extracting rock or minerals from the earth from an open-air pit.
  • It is also called open-pit mining, open-cut mining and in larger contexts mega-mining.
  • It is a traditional ‘cone-shaped’ excavation done for surface mining of coal that does not have deep shafts.
  • This form of mining differs from extractive methods that require tunnelling into the earth, such as longwall mining.
  • This technique is used when a mineral is found relatively close to Earth’s surface.

What are the advantages of Open-cast Mining?

  • Opencast mining is the most efficient and economic method of mining because of high production and extraction rate, low-cost production, lower gestation period, full mechanisation etc.
  • It accounts for 94% of coal produced in India.

What are the disadvantages or concerns?

  • The overburden (material overlying a mine) are often left behind where they are extracted. Over time it causes land subsidence and collapses leading to the deaths of miners.
  • Lack of rehabilitation of closed and abandoned mine sites >
  • Causes water pollution (used water from mines drained to waterbodies or leached underground) and air pollution (due to methane, dust etc. produced by coal mines) etc.

What are the steps taken by the government in this regard?

  • In 2017, Mineral Conservation and Development Rules were amended to bring mandatory star ratings to ensure scientific and efficient mining operations. ‘
  • Regulations under Mines Act 1952, Mine Rules 1955, Coal Mine Regulation-1957, etc.

Latest News

  • February 2022: Five persons were found dead after part of an open cast coal mine caved in, in the Dhanbad district of Jharkhand.
    • Officials said the deceased persons had illegally entered the open cast mine located at the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) in Mugma.

Source: Indian Express

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