How does mining affect local populations?

2 Answers
Feb 29, 2016

Mining usually provides significant employment and economic well being for local towns. Some social problems can occur from predominately male workers in this sector.


The mining industry usually provides significant long-term employment for communities and in fact, it is often the reason a community is established - for the mining opportunities. Once established, other services like gas stations, food stores etc. open.

However, these communities never really know how long they will exist, as the economics of mining are highly dependent on coal, or metal prices. Its not uncommon for mines to shut-down temporarily, which can have a big negative impact on communities. When the mine is completely uneconomic and must shut down forever, this creates consider hardship for communities and their property values may plunge to zero. However, when times are good, they are good.

Males are often attracted to mining jobs and these are often in fairly remote locations. This can lead to alcohol and drug abuse and prostitution problems in mining communities as people have a lot of money to spend. Many people also are reluctant to raise families in mining communities because of these problems. However, its becoming increasingly popular to not even establish a town at a mine site anymore and workers are often flown in for 10 day on and 4 day off shifts - or various combinations.

While there maybe short term benefits of mining to local communities especially in terms of employment, it's long term negative environmental and social impacts cannot be disregarded.


The amount of minerals that can be extracted in a certain location can be exhausted after sometime. Large scale mining can provide temporary local employment but it also competes for the use of land, water, forests and other local resources against local communities and most likely the local communities will lose. Subsequent long and short term environmental damage due to mining operations may deprive the local people of environmental services and benefits it used to enjoy. Farming may not be practical anymore due to pollution, loss of irrigation and soil erosion among others; or the entire community maybe displaced due to unfavorable environment, security demand of the mining company or by any other reason.