The Tharsis-Lagunazo area, in the Province of Huelva, southwestern Spain, has a long history of mining. For over three thousand years, the contour of the land has continuously been modified and re-modified by mining activities and unplanned mine wastes to provide the present landscape. This study, making use of Lands at TM imagery from 1984 and black and white aerial photographs from 1973, was able to assess the implication and impact of mining on this area. From these datasets, it was possible to detect the number of open-pit mines, waste rock dumps, tailings, slime dams, land use/cover changes and subsurface groundwater pollution.Preliminary results of the investigation show the indiscriminate dumping of solid mining waste to be rampant wherever land is available. All in all, no diagnostic changes with regards to the extent of the mining pits could be deciphered from the two datasets available. No new open pit sites and no extension in area coverage of the existing ones could be confirmed from the remotely sensed data and field mapping. Changes however, were evident within the bushy vegetation, known as “jara” in Spain, and the eucalyptus growing areas surrounding the mines including new dumpsites in areas identified as barren from the 1973 aerial photos. These are evident when comparing the aerial photos of 1973 with the Landsat TM of 1984. The type of landscape defacement without any concern for rehabilitation is another major environmental concern clearly vivid from both the remotely sensed datasets used.
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- The Impact of Mining on The Environment
Andrea G. Fabbri
- Springer Netherlands
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