Depletion of Natural Resources- Metals, Minerals — Conservation Policy
All the materials and energy essential for the survival and welfare of living beings including humans-are provided by nature. They are called natural resources.
A thing becomes resource only when it is used by humans to perform a function. Man lives in nature and depends on the resources of nature.
The sustenance and welfare of mankind depend upon the exploitation of different natural resources. The utilization of soil, water minerals, coal, electricity, oil, gas and nuclear energy is very important for the development of nation These resources have changed the level of living standard of man.
Earth’s supply of raw mineral resources is in danger. Many mineral deposits that have been located and mapped have been depleted. As the ores for minerals like aluminum and iron become harder to find and extract, their prices skyrocket. This makes tools and machinery more expensive to purchase and operate.
Large-scale exploitation of minerals began in the Industrial Revolution around 1760 in England and has grown rapidly ever since. Technological improvements have allowed humans to dig deeper and access lower grades and different types of ore over that time.Virtually all basic industrial metals (copper, iron, bauxite, etc.), as well as rare earth minerals, face production output limitations from time to time, because supply involves large up-front investments and is therefore slow to respond to rapid increases in demand.
The major causes of resource depletion are listed below:
With increasing population, demands of the country increase which further results in depletion of resources.
Over-consumption and waste
As the standards of living of people improves, they tend to consume more and waste even more.
Deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems
Forests are cut annually, to make space for multiplexes, residential complexes etc. This not only destroys trees (and wood as a resource) but also destroys home of thousands of species of animals.
Mining of Minerals and Oil-Minerals and metals are in high demand in today’s world. This is a very big problem as ores are being depleted day by day.
Technological and industrial development
Technology advances and so the need of resources increases.
Because of deforestation, soil erosion takes place. Thus, soil gets devoid of important minerals and resources.
Pollution and contamination of resources
Water pollution, soil pollution is increasing at an alarming rate today due to negligent attitude of people towards the environment. Pollution has a direct effect on contamination of resources available in nature.
Conservation of mineral resources
Minerals are non-renewable resources. They cannot be replenished and their new reserves created once these are depleted. Also these are earthly treasure which belongs to entire mankind of present and future generations.
They have decisive role cultural, social and economic development of’ mankind. We have moral and social obligations conserve them, avoid their misuse and wastage a: preserve them for use in future.
This could only’ possible through the adoption of conservation techniques. In India conservation strategy is more important because of the scarcity of certain important minerals which need conservation and new technological revolution currently going on in the count’ which will evolve better mining and processing technology in future for judicious exploitation mineral resources.
According to an estimate in will be depleted of coking coal in 13 years, now coking coal in 116 years, copper in 36 years, and high medium and low grades of iron ores in 32 years, 18! years and 68 years respectively, bauxite in 30 ye lead in 38 years, manganese in 31 years, zinc in years, gold in 10 years and limestone in 446 yean Our position is already critical in respect of energy resources like petroleum. This is an alarming signal which needs judicious conservation policy. Somehow the suggested measures are as follows:
1. New researches should be undertaken it find out and develop ‘replacement minerals’ for us in place of scarce minerals which are in short supp| and are going to be depleted soon.
2. Researches should also be carried on td develop new technology which should avoid west age and promote maximum utilisation of by-products.
3. There should be curbing on wasteful minim methods. Miners should be imparted training to adopt new techniques of mining, use latest technology and machines and take maximum precaution’ cause little damage to the environment.
4. There should be proper development of infrastructural facilities in mining areas, suite location for processing plants and refineries and encouragement to private sectors to establish re] search units and adequate provision for financial support and loans.
5. Processing plants should invariably be coated in mining areas to reduce transport cost. In case of weighty materials like coal it is better to convert it into coking coal or in electricity near the pit heads.
6. There is a great scope for the expansion of several mineral-based industries which open new vista for economic development.
7. New explorations should be carried on to find out locations and new areas of minerals using latest technology. In case of India sea floor exploration and mining may yield good dividend.
8. In conservation policy emphasis should be placed on sustainable mining. Similarly more reliance should be placed on the exploitation and utilisation of such mineral resources which are renewable and are in plenty.