Pakistan asked to adopt low-impact mining techniques

July 10, 2024

Faiza Tehseen

Pakistan should adopt low-impact mining techniques to make excavation operations more sustainable.

“The adoption of low-impact mining techniques is no longer a choice, but a necessity. Pakistan must prioritise sustainability and environmental stewardship in its mining sector to ensure a better socioeconomic future,” asserted Muhammad Yaqub Shah, principal geologist with an Islamabad-based mining company. Talking to WealthPK, he said, “Water pollution is the first casualty when a mining operation is done, whether underground or through an open pit. Morphology of the area gets disturbed, forcing birds and animals to migrate. Additionally, some climatic changes also take place.” He said that the mining impacts were evaluated according to the intensity of the mine (the per-day production). “The more the production, the more the impact will be.” Yaqub stressed the need for strong laws and their effective implementation to mitigate the environmental disturbances.

He said Pakistan could adopt the best mining techniques and rehabilitation processes practised by the modern economies the world over. Abdul Bashir, chief geologist with Balochistan-based Koh-i-Daleel Minerals Private Limited, said Pakistan was rich in mineral resources, including copper, gold and chromium. “However, the country's mining sector has long been criticised for its devastating environmental and social impacts. The conventional mining methods used in Pakistan have resulted in deforestation, water pollution, and displacement of local communities and other living beings.” He said that it was necessary to introduce in Pakistan sustainable and eco-friendly mining practices. In Pakistan, he said some large mining groups were using Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), including gas detectors, earplugs, goggles, helmets, shoes, and overalls to help reduce the risks.

However, during small-scale mining practices, there was no awareness and concept concerning safety measures, Bashir said. “As a result, a good number of mineworkers die every year during tunnel mining because of tunnel collapses.”   Bashir said that open pit mining as a safe mining practice was in vogue around the world, but in Pakistan tunnel mining was usually done. “Open pit mining is safe because it is done only by removing the overburden, while tunnel mining just follows a specific vein.” He also said that it was necessary to bring awareness concerning the low-impact mining concept and restoration process after the mining operations were done.

Credit: INP-WealthPk