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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Project going forward - Effects of Titanium Mining


Lessons Learned:

Sea pollution - a real hazard due to the mining of titanium.

Destroy the local landscape.

Expose the residents to radioactive radiation (titanium-related minerals like rutile, ilmenite and zircon contain inert quantities of uranium and thorium which are potential radio-active emitters which could be activated during mineral processing).

Alter the area's soil chemical conditions.

The project would affect the local albedo (reflectivity of solar radiation) through the removal of vegetation implying that more of the solar radiation would be reflected back to the sky and could therefore cause more heating of the cold inward-bound winds and impact negatively on local rainfall. Also physical effects and chemical reactions are likely to free the uranium and thorium (Radio Active elements) into the environment.

Vegetation and topsoil (country’s richness depends on top soil) will be affected. This effect will also be an irreparable damage not only to topsoil but humans and ecological systems.

Toxic chemicals used in heavy mineral separation processes and disturbance or redistribution of sediment could spell a disaster for the coastal waters including important resources such as Coral reefs and Marine organisms.

Another contentious issue is that of radioactivity associated with the minerals zircon and monazite.The coastal zone is a crucial part of the economy, as it supplies a living for a large number of people along the coast. It is envisaged that involuntary resettlement without adequate compensation and viable alternative sites may result in serious socioeconomic consequences.

Dupont titanium mining operation
A 50-year titanium mining operation by DuPont was set to begin in 1997, but protests and public/government opposition over the possibly disastrous environmental effects throughout 1996-2000 caused the company to abandon the project in 2000 and retire their mineral rights forever. In 2003, DuPont donated the 16,000 acres (65 km²) it had purchased for mining to The Conservation Fund, and in 2005, nearly 7,000 acres (28 km²) of the donated land was transferred to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Note: The Okefenokee Swamp is home to many wading birds, such as herons, egrets, ibises, cranes and bitterns, though populations fluctuate with water levels. Okefenokee is famous for its abundant American alligators and it is a critical habitat for Florida black bear. If DuPont had not stopped it mining activities all these great fauna would have disappeared from the area.

Toxicity of Titanium is not completely understood. However some effects may happen in liver and reproduction especially in child morbidity (studies used rats -
We humans take everything for granted and after few years we find whatever we did to the environment was a grave mistake.
If I was an Environmental Minister of Tamil Nadu, I will not approve this project. However, I am not an Environmental Minister of TN and since we need some economic development, this titanium mining industry can be approved but at a very very minimal level without affecting the environment (land & sea), flora, fauna & humans. We should not be money and Titanium greedy and spoil Tamil Nadu's greatest COASTAL AREAS.

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