Effect of mining in the circumpolar regions


Mining is a very important economic activity, especially for resources since humans require valuable resources on a daily basis. Common mining resources include coal, iron, and gold, silver and sand, among others, all of which have economic benefit to human beings. This study aims at the assessment of the environmental, economic and social impacts of mining activities in the circumpolar region by taking the case of iron core production at Kirkenes, Norway (NewsinEnglish, 2015). Kirkenes is a region which contains a large port, alongside high activities of iron ore production. The Kirkenes port was constructed in order to facilitate the exportation of iron core after mining. According to Lloyd, (1955), the Kirkenes iron core is a taconite with 30% metallic content. This mineral can be marketed to fetch profits since it is mined through open-cast methods which are quite economical. The iron ore production at Kirkenes started in the year 1910, though the ore occurs as metallic sediments which are scattered across a large area (Mikhailova, 2014). Much of the iron ore mined at Kirkenes is shipped to Europe where there is increased demand. By the start of the First World Wars, iron core mining was 550,000m tones per year, while by the start of the Second World War, this had increased to 700,000m tons. According to Geological Survey of Norway, (2015), in the year 2014, the mineral resources that were extracted in Norway amounted to 96 illion, where metallic ores were 2.6billion (Geological surbay of Norway, 2015).

The iron ore found in Kirkenes is termed as the quartz bearing iron and the major factor for the Kirkenes growth is through mining activities. This has made Kirkenes to receive global economic interest as a rich source of iron core (Viken et al., 2008). As economic projections rise, there are high chances that Kirkenes will be a rich mining site globally. However, the mining processes are associated with various environmental, economic and social impacts that are double sided. This is because mining activities have several benefits and risks at the same time (Dudka & Adriano, 1997). Common benefits include the economic growth, while negative effects include degradation of soils, and water bodies, which can negatively affect lives. The mining left over tailings can cause health problem to people and the ecosystem due to prolonged exposure to dust and other wastes (Soltani et al., 2017). These wastes are blown by wind and carried by waters carrying toxic metallic material to the people. A common economic effect is the acid mine drainage which is characterized by the outflow of acid water from the mining sites. This acid mine is in form of sulfuric acid which is formed in metal ores, thus causing serious side effects to life. At the same time, there is no research which has explored the economic, social and environmental effects of mining in the circumpolar area, and more so in the Kirkenes area of Norway. The iron core mining activity effects, both positive and negative are as a result of various management strategies. This fact notwithstanding, not much research has not been directed to sustainability of mining in this region. Hence, its important do determine various positive and negative impacts in this region.