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Industrial mining is linked to the loss of tropical forests in Indonesia and Brazil the most, says a study

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - New research shows that large-scale mining for coal, gold, and iron ore is causing tropical deforestation...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - New research shows that large-scale mining for coal, gold, and iron ore is causing tropical deforestation. Forests that were once impenetrable are being cut down to make room for mines and roads.

In the first study to try to figure out how much industrial mining contributes to the loss of tropical forests, an international team of scientists found that Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana, and Suriname are mostly to blame.

The study came out on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It says that from 2000 to 2019, large-scale mining operations in the tropics were responsible for about 80% of deforestation.

Even though at least 70% of deforestation is done to make room for farming, the scientists pointed to industrial mining as a growing problem because of the growing demand for minerals used in clean-energy technologies to fight climate change.

"Decarbonized technologies will need a lot of minerals, like copper, lithium, and cobalt," said coauthor Anthony Bebbington, a geographer at Clark University in Massachusetts. "Governments and businesses need more tools for planning so that mining doesn't cause as much forest loss."

The study found that mines around the world are already taking out more than twice as much raw material as they did in 2000.

For the study, researchers looked at global satellite images and data about the loss of forests, as well as information about where large-scale mining operations have taken place over the past 20 years. The study didn't look at the effects of small-scale and artisanal mining, which can also cause problems because pollution isn't controlled.

Since 2000, most of the tropical deforestation in the world has been caused by 26 countries.

But the four countries were in charge of industrial mining sites. The biggest losses were in Indonesia, where coal mines on the island of Borneo have grown because China and India need more fuel.

Ghana and Suriname also had a lot of trees cut down near gold and bauxite mines, which are used to make aluminium and other things. In Brazil, gold and iron ore mining led to the destruction of forests.

Mining operations often clear forests to make room for expanding extraction sites and tailing storage facilities, as well as to build access roads. and places for miners to live.

Environmental impact assessments are done before a mine is approved. Juliana Siqueira-Gay, an environmental engineer at the sustainability nonprofit Instituto Escolhas in Brazil who was not involved in the study, said that road building and other development activities are often left out.

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