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Worldwatch Institute, 1997
Uploaded on Saturday 25 Feb 2012
Mining waste rock
Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
Regardless of the type of raw material, its extraction always comes with an environmental cost. Most mining leaves a lasting and damaging environmental footprint. For example, during the extraction of common metals like copper, lead or zinc from the earth both metal-bearing rock, called ore, and “overburden”, the dirt and rock that covers the ore are removed. At a typical copper mine around 125 tonnes of ore are excavated to produce just one
tonne of copper. The amount of earth moved is mind-boggling and mining now strips more of the Earth's surface each year than does natural erosion.