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Mines, their pollution & resolution!

About the blog

Madhukar Swayambhu
Madhukar Swayambhu is a Water Hero of India, a TEDx speaker, an innovator, an ecologist, environmentalist associated with environmental restoration.


  • Mines, their pollution & resolution!

Mining industry is the core industry for supporting almost all the industries on the planet. Like railways, mining has been the root cause and the force behind all the industrial revolutions. People usually take IT industry as the latest revolution in the industry, but without mining even the semi-conductor industry or the IT Hardware industry wouldn’t survive. Be it any hardware, from mobile phones to computers to tablets to switches to routers, every connector would need gold, every cable would need copper and every processor would need silver, and the source for all this is none other than the Mining industry.

Mining industry functions can broadly be categorized as exploring, extracting, enriching, elevating and exemption of naturally occurring solid minerals from their ores that are embedded in mines the multiple layer of earth. It can be anything that exists naturally including coal or petroleum or natural gasses, it can be metals like iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, or it could be minerals like potash, limestone, and other crushed rocks and so on. These metals and minerals are the backbone of the industry – be it heavy industries like steel, coal, power or infrastructure industry like road, rail or real estate or chemical industries or the electronics and consumer products industries.

Without mining the entire industry would stand still.

The flipside

But mining industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, not just during the mining operations, but also after the mining is over from the particular site. They keep digging a hole in the earth till they reach a verge from where going beyond would be more expensive that the price they would get after extraction.

As per Science Direct’s published research – “At present, deep mining at 1000 m is normal; the depth of coal mines has reached 1500 m, the depth of geothermal exploitation has reached more than 5000 m, the depth of non-ferrous metal mines has reached around 4500 m, and the depth of oil and gas exploitation has reached around 7500 m.”

Without mining the entire industry would stand still

At that depth, it’s not the only mineral that they mine for, but many other heavy metals that get exposed to the environment, which are natural supposed to be embedded in the depth of earth's crust.

Ideally after the mining gets over the miner should be refilling the mine with Soil, sand, landfill material or other organic waste, but usually this never happens for economic reasons. The miner would get into incurring losses for refilling such a huge mine area. Therefore more often than not, the abandoned mine is left just like that, a BIG pit in the earth surface. And when it rains, this entire pit get filled with water. This collected water get exposed to all those heavy metals and minerals which have been unearthed during the mining process and converts this entire pool of water as a deadly toxic water that can be named liquid poison for all practical purposes.

Any living being consuming such water will be dead in a matter of hours due to multiple organ failure including vital organs line kidney, liver, heart or even brain in some cases.

The challenges

The challenge here is to neutralize the heavy metals of all sorts. Some in pure form, some in ore form and some in more complex compounds form. Problem is none of ETPs or STPs are designed to tackle with such a complex variety of contaminants. Decomposition of these heavy metals and minerals is one of the biggest challenge to the waste water treatment technologies and the industry as a whole.

The existing processes of STP or ETP, physical / mechanical process, chemical approach or biological treatments are all ineffective in the opencast mining scenario. Because we have huge piles of minerals and metals to be sorted out.

  1. Leachate in the quarries - The acid will leach from the rock as long as its source rock is exposed to air and water and until the sulphides are leached out – a process that can last hundreds, even thousands of years.
  2. Heavy metals contamination in water - Heavy metal pollution is caused when such metals as arsenic, cobalt, copper, cadmium, lead, silver and zinc contained in excavated rock or exposed in an underground mine come in contact with water.
  3. Acid Drainage - Acid Rock Drainage (ARD) is a natural process whereby sulphuric acid is produced when sulphides in rocks are exposed to air and water. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is essentially the same process, greatly magnified. When large quantities of rock containing sulphide minerals are excavated from an open pit or opened up in an underground mine, it reacts with water and oxygen to create sulphuric acid.

The ONLY solution

We’ve harmed the nature beyond the reparable limits in our mining process, still it is nature only that comes to our rescue. Even if we align with nature now, we can undo the harm and reinstate the natural ecology by harnessing the forces of nature itself.

Physics, chemistry or biology are all smaller subsets of a larger domain called ecology. All of them are linked with each other like gears and make one move, can actually result into moving of all of them. Our only problem is lack of knowledge due to segregation of science streams.

Like a mining engineer doesn’t understand the microbiology of a mine, on the other hand a microbiologist can’t perceive the possible chemical reactions happening when the heavy metals ores or rock are exposed to atmosphere and water.

But all this is interlinked as all is happening in the same huge domain of natural ecology.

We have metal eating microbes in water that die a natural death or suffer a hibernation since they are exposed to air and become dormant or inactive and we have heavy metal eating bacteria in soil, that ceases o exist in aquatic ecology.

The ONLY Solution is the form, an equilibrium or a symbiotic relationship between the Soil, Water and Air ecology and reestablish the barter link, wherein each of the ecology is interdependent and gets to exchange the ions, biomass or even electrical charge with each other empowering, energizing and revitalizing each other. That’s a natural cycle of Restoring, Revitalizing, Rejuvenating, Recycling and Reusing. That the law of nature which make it cyclic and never ending and never allows anything to get wasted. Waste of one is the food for other.

The Cownomics way

Like Ayurved is an ancient Vedic Science of medicine that is very ecological in its core philosophy. It is based on an understanding that the life on the planet is because of five (5) key elements of life that are the building blocks of all life on the planet. These key elements are – Fire, Water, Soil, Air and Cosmic Energy. The entire science of medicine called Ayurved is based upon striking a balance between these elements.

Similarly, Cownomics is the modern Vedic Science based technology for Ecological Rejuvenation of Water, Soil and Air. This is the ONLY Technology on Earth using Vedic science to reinstate the natural ecology, without using any machines, or chemicals or biologically invasive species, just by harnessing the sources of nature. This makes it the MOST sustainable, viable, effective and ecological technology on the planet. And the key ideology here as well remains in striking a balance between the five key elements of life.

When the water is rejuvenated, the next gear is Soil and the third one is Air. And the combination is earth in the bottom, above which the pool of water and above which has to be the natural atmosphere. When the natural balance gets created all the microbes in the Soil, Water and Air get back to life and the symbiotic exchange link gets established naturally.

We’ve got to be careful enough to not to disturb the ecology through any physical process or chemical reaction or introduction of an invasive species (neither macro nor micro), but to energize and revitalize the natural ecology by empowering and enhancing the natural balance and processes.

Cownomics is the modern Vedic Science based technology for Ecological Rejuvenation of Water, Soil and Air

Just to give a glimpse of it –

  1. Cupriavidus metallidurans – is a soil-living, rod-shaped bacterium that is able to survive massive doses of toxic metals, because it survives on them. It thrives in environments loaded with heavy metals and can help form grains of gold out of these heavy metals.
  2. Halomonas titanicae – the bacteria responsible for the decay of the debris of titanic for almost 100 years has been eating up the metal ship in 2.4 kilometers deep ocean waters.
  3. Desulfuromonas acetoxidans – are the bacterium that are capable of reducing sulfur at the expense of acetate.
  4. Shewanella and Geothrix – are iron reducing species of microbes.
  5. GFAJ-1 – is yet another species that eats and survives upon the otherwise toxic Arsenic.

And there are over millions of such species of microorganisms that exist naturally on our planet making it livable by fixing all the 108 elements of the periodic table. They don’t just eat metals they even breathe and excrete metals, which we’ve been considering as non-soluble, non-consumable or non-biodegradable so far.

All the 108 metals or minerals on the planet are merely results of the changes happening in the physics, chemistry and biology of Soil, Water and Air, due to the availability of cosmic energy on the planet in the form of sunlight.

In our labs we create complex compounds like benzene, PFAS or PFOS and we assume that we’ve conquered the nature, but each of these complex compound can be neutralized, consumed and digested through natural processes.

It’s high time for us humans to realize our mistakes and return back to basics to live in harmony with nature, and let the nature perform the cycle of Restoring, Revitalizing, Rejuvenating, Recycling and Reusing.

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