Chapter III: Environmental Impacts from Mining Activities and Nuclear Plants.

Chapter III: Environmental Impacts from Mining Activities and Nuclear Plants.
Chapter III: Environmental Impacts from Mining Activities and Nuclear Plants.
Can you remember a day when you opened your morning newspaper
without finding a disturbing story about some environmental crisis that is
either here already or lurks around the corner? On one day the story may
be about global warming; on the next it may be about overpopulation or air
pollution or resource depletion or species extinction or sea-level rise or
nuclear wastes or toxic substances in our food and water.
The uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources for the last two
centuries have played havoc on our earth. The phenomenal advance of
science and technology, and the frightening increase in population, have
placed
enormous
pressure
on
the
earth's
resources.
Depletion,
desertification and deforestation, climatic changes, droughts and floods and
other natural problems threaten life on earth. And with pollution on a
hazardous scale these problems are being compounded to even more
alarming proportions.
Human
civilization
has
been
developed
with
mineral
and
energy
resources. Mineral and energy resources such as metal, petroleum and coal
are the most important materials for the industrial development of a
country. It is true that the stable and continuous supply of resources is the
major factor for economic growth of a country. However, environmental
damages such as acid mine drainage (AMD), mine tailing sweeping, ground
subsidence, and forest ruin are inevitable in the development of a mine.
These mining hazards are considered as causes of natural damages such
as ground collapse, contaminated water outflow, heavy metal contamination
of soil, dust scattering, noise and vibration. These damages are caused by
the process of mine development such as exploration, excavation, grinding,
transportation and concentration. The mining hazards are characterized as
contamination, continuation, accumulation and diffusion, so they may happen
long after the mine development has finished, and result in environmental
problems, safety concerns and a civil appeal. The crisis from mining
activities has resulted in dire consequences for everyone.
With such grave concerns, we are challenged by the urgent task of
coming to grips with root issues. Dealing with superficial symptoms will not
be sufficient. Neither can we look only at local situations, as environmental
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concerns are interlinked and have assumed global dimensions, penetrating
total
human
life.
And
therefore,
whether
philosophically,
theologically,
economically, socially, politically or in any other way possible, we will need
to collectively handle these mounting problems with determination and
dedication.
Getting to root issues will turn out to be an absorbing theological
discussion. Restoring, even reinterpreting biblical doctrines will help the
Church to face the challenge as God's people need to be doing.
3.1. Environmental Impact from Mining Activities.
It is now well understood that mining activities such as exploration,
development, production, processing, refining and transportation have surely
generated environmental pollutions by altering land-forms and ecosystems,
disrupting the hydrological cycle and discharging waste into air and water.
Mining has left a lasting mark on people and landscapes around the
world. Each year mining activities take more materials out of the earth than
the world's rivers move. A single mine in Papua New Guinea, the Ok Tedi,
generates an astounding 200,000 tons of waste a day on average which is
more than the waste of all the cities in Japan, Australia, and Canada
combined.
Mines have uprooted tens of thousands of people from their homelands
and have exposed many more to toxic chemicals and pollution. And mining
is the world's most deadly occupation. 40 mine workers are killed on the
job
each
day
on
average,
and
many
more
are
injured
(Sampat
2003:111-129).
If an accountant were to weigh the costs and benefits of extracting
minerals from the earth and then processing and refining them, the balance
sheet would reveal that the mining industry consumes close to 10% of the
world energy, spews almost half of all toxic emissions from all the
industries in some countries, and threatens nearly 40% of the world's
undeveloped tracts of forest.
The environmental impact from mining ore is affected by its percentage
of metal content, or grade. The more accessible and higher grade ores are
usually exploited first. As they are depleted, it takes more money, energy,
water, and other materials to exploit lower grade ores. This in turn
increases land disruption, mining waste, and pollution.
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Although underground mining generally has less dramatic environmental
impact than small-scale and open-pit mining, it carries the potential for a
collapse of the underground shaft. In addition, the movement of large
amounts of waste rock and vegetation can lead to the same pollution
problems as an industrial mine, such as acid mine drainage which is
discussed further in this section.
Table 3.1: Environmental Impact from Mining Activities.
Activity
Water Discharge
Environmental Impacts
ㆍAcid mine drainage.
ㆍHeavy metals overloading.
Dewatering
ㆍEcological impacts.
ㆍSediment runoff.
ㆍEffluent contamination.
ㆍImpacts upon water resources.
Smelting
ㆍAir pollution.
ㆍAcidic deposition.
ㆍHeavy metals contamination.
Transportation
ㆍNoise pollution.
ㆍDust and sediment.
ㆍGaseous emissions.
ㆍOil and fuel spills.
ㆍSoil contamination.
Mineral Extraction
ㆍErosion.
ㆍLandform changes.
ㆍAlteration of water tables.
ㆍDust.
ㆍVegetation and habitat destruction.
ㆍAesthetics.
Source: Krivtsov, A. I., Geoenvironmental Problems of Mineral
Resources Development in Geology and Ecosystems, Springer
Inc., Ridgeway, UK, 2006, P. 74.
However, there have been relatively few studies which attempt to
identify and quantify the environmental impact from mining activities. So, it
is difficult to determine the scale and cost of environmental problems
associated with the mining industry at the present.
Currently, most of the harmful environmental costs of mining and
processing energy and minerals are not included in the price of the
resulting consumer products. Instead, these costs are passed on to society
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and future generations, which gives mining companies and manufacturers
little incentive to reduce waste and pollution. We should call for phasing
these external costs into the prices of goods made from energy and mineral
resources through full-cost pricing. This makes it an effective preventer to
curb
mining-related
pollution
and
fulfill
an
intra-industrial
equity
and
inter-generation equity.
3.1.1. Pollution from Extracting Mineral Resources.
3.1.1.1. Air Pollution.
The environmental impact of mines extends beyond the threats to habitat.
The mining industry is one of the planet's leading polluters. Smelting metals
contributes some 19 million tons of acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide to the
atmosphere annually, that is about 13% of global emissions. In the USA,
processing minerals contributes almost half of all reported toxic emissions
from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollutants into the air and water
each year.
3.1.1.2. Water Pollution.
The amount of waste generated by mines is staggering every year.
Canadian mines generate more than a billion tons which are 60 times larger
than the amount of trash Canadian cities discard. To transport this waste,
some mines now use a kind of giant dump truck that can move 360 tons of
material of which each behemoth tire weighs 4.5 tons and stands almost 5
meters high.
In 2000, mines around the world extracted some 900 million tons of
metal, and left behind some 6 billion tons of waste ore. This figure does
not include the overburden earth moved to access the ores. Much of this
waste came from the production of just iron ore, copper, and gold.
For every usable ton of copper, 110 tons of waste rock and ore are
discarded, and another 200 tons of overburden earth is moved. For gold,
the ratio is more staggering: about 300,000 tons of waste is generated for
every ton of market gold, which translates into roughly 3 tons of waste per
gold wedding ring. Much of this waste is contaminated with cyanide and
other chemicals used to separate the metal from ore.
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The amount of waste generated by mines has increased as ore grades
have declined for a number of metals. As the more easily accessible and
rich veins of metal have been dug out, miners have turned to less abundant
sources through using more energy and chemicals to extract the same
amount of metal while generating more waste. In 1906, copper ores in the
USA yielded on average 2.5 grams of metal for every 100 grams of ore. In
2000, U.S. miners extracted copper from ore with an average grade of 0.44
grams of metal per 100 grams of ore, meaning that five times more waste
is now generated per gram of marketable metal.
3.1.1.3. Landscape Transformation.
In the last century, lower energy costs and the development of new
mining
technologies
have
made
it
possible
to
transform
landscapes
completely. Earth-moving equipment is used to literally move mountains in
order to get to a mineral deposit. These technological advancements have
led to two trends: the extraction of minerals from lower-grade ores and the
development of open-pit mines instead of underground ones.
Today, about two thirds of metals are extracted from open-pit mines.
These open-pit mines use more diesel fuel and generate a lot more waste
than the subterranean kind. On average, open-pit mines produce 8-10 times
more waste than underground mines do.
3.1.1.4. Deforestation.
By one estimate, mining projects threaten nearly 40% of the world's
large, untouched forests. These include a titanium mine being developed in
a Madagascar forest that is inhabited by rare lemurs, birds, and indigenous
plant
species;
gold
exploration
in
Peru's
Andean
cloud
forests;
and
columbite-tantalite mining in the Okapi Reserve in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC), home to the endangered lowland gorilla. Also in the works
is a nickel and cobalt mine on Gag Island, off the coast of Papua New
Guinea. The reefs off the island are inhabited by an astounding variety of
coral, fish, and mollusks.
3.1.1.5. Biological Threat.
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The Lorentz National Park in the Indonesian province of West Papua,
which is the western half of the island of New Guinea, is one of the world's
most biologically diverse and least explored places. It is the largest
protected area of 2.5 million hectares in Southeast Asia. In the span of
about 125 kilometers, the park covers a dramatic range of ecosystems. It is
a naturalist's dream come true.
But the area has more than just biological wealth. Lorentz lies next to
what is considered the world's richest rode of copper and gold ore, valued
at about $50 billion. The U.S. mining company, Freeport McMoRan first dug
open the deposit in 1973, and has expanded its foothold ever since. The
company now dumps 70 million tons of waste each year into the nearby
Ajkwa River, and by the time it closes in 30 years, it will have excavated a
230 ㎢ hole in the forest that is visible from outer space. The region's
population has increased from 6,000 to 70,000 in the last 30 years and the
area now boasts an 18 hole golf course for mining executives.
Much new mining development is taking place in or near ecologically
fragile regions around the world, which are including world heritage sites
such as the Bystrinski National Reserve in Russia and the Sierra Imataca
Reserve in Venezuela.
3.1.1.6. Remains of Toxic Chemicals.
Chemical innovations have also contributed to the dual trends in low
grading and surface mines. In the late 1800s, chemists in the USA patented
cyanide heap-leaching as a method of separating gold from ore. Today, gold
mines everywhere from South Africa to South Korea use this technique.
Cyanide is mixed with water and is then poured or sprayed over heaps of
crushed ore in order to dissolve bits of gold. Once the usable gold is
removed, the stacks of crushed ore known as tailings are treated to reduce
cyanide concentrations, although the chemical is never entirely diluted.
When gold prices shot up in the early 1980s, this method gained new
popularity as miners rushed to extract gold from deposits containing even
tiny amounts of the metal. Between 1983 and 1999, USA's consumption of
crystalline sodium cyanide reached more than tripled to reach 130 million
kilograms, about 90 % of which was used in gold mining. A teaspoon
containing a 2 percent cyanide solution can kill an adult.
Where do these chemical-laced wastes end up? They are piled into
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heaps, walled into constructed holding areas called dams, and in some parts
of the world simply dumped into rivers, streams, or oceans. Tailing dams
are typically built by stacking piles of waste above ground or in freshwater
ponds. Today three mines in the world - all of them on the Pacific island
of New Guinea - officially uses rivers to dump tailings. Mine waste
elsewhere have spilled out of waste sites and poisoned drinking water
supplies and aquatic habitat. In the US West, mining has contaminated an
estimated 26,000 kilometers of streams and rivers.
3.1.1.7. Emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
A sizable share of the energy used in extracting and refining minerals
comes from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, whose burning emits carbon
dioxide which is implicated in global climate change. In the United States,
about
50%
of
the
electricity
used
to
smelt
aluminium
comes
from
coal-burning power plants, for instance. But mining's role in global climate
change does not end with its fossil fuel use. Producing cement from
limestone releases an additional 5% of annual carbon emission to the
atmosphere each year. The aluminum smelting process releases about 2
tons of carbon in order to produce a ton of primary aluminium.
3.1.1.8 Emission of Perfluoro-carbons (PFCs).
The
aluminium
smelting
process
releases
about
3
tons
of
perfluoro-carbons for each ton of primary aluminium produced, which are
very rare gases not emitted through any other industrial activity. PFCs are
extremely potent greenhouse gases: a ton of PFCs is equivalent to the
greenhouse potential of 6,500-9,200 tons of carbon.
In 1997, PFC emissions from aluminium smelters in Australia, Canada,
France, Germany, England, and USA were equivalent to about 19 million
tons of carbon, although at least this is 50% less than their emissions in
1990, thanks to improvements in smelter efficiency.
3.1.1.9. Energy Consumption.
Extracting,
processing,
and
refining
minerals
is
extremely
energy
-extensive. Between 7 to 10% of all oil, gas, coal, and hydro-power energy
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produced globally each year is used to extract and process minerals. Mining
and processing of just the three minerals of aluminium, copper and steel
consumes an astounding 7.2% of world energy. This is more than the entire
Latin American region uses each year. This makes it a major contributor of
greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2).
3.1.1.10. Environmental Incidents.
There is no reliable way to dispose of billions of tons of materials
discreetly. Catastrophic spills of mine wastes in recent years have resulted
in enormous fish kills, soil and water pollution, and damage to human health.
In 2000, for instance, a tailing dam spilt open at the Baia Mare mine in
Rumania. This accident sent some 100,000 tons of wastewater and 20,000
tons of sludge contaminated with cyanide, copper, and heavy metals into the
Tisza River, and eventually into the Danube - destroying 1,240 tons of fish
and polluting the drinking water supplies of 2.5 million people.
That same year major accidents took place at mines in Gallivare in
Sweden, Guangxi in China, Cajamarca in Peru, Tolukuma in Papua New
Guinea, Sichuan in China, and Borsa in Rumania. The accident at a copper
mine in Guangxi killed 29 people and destroyed more than 100 homes.
Of the hundreds of mining-related environmental incidents since 1975,
about 75% have involved tailing dam ruptures. According to the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there are 3,500 tailing storage
facilities in active use around the world and several thousand others that
are now closed, all of which pose potential risks.
3.1.1.11. Life Alteration of Local People.
Mines have not only transformed landscapes, but have also dramatically
altered the lives of the local people who live near mineral deposits.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted in order to make way
for mine projects. Many others have had to forsake traditional occupations
and endure the effects of living beside a mine that poisons their water
supplies or near a smelter that pollutes the air they breathe.
At the same time, mines have brought jobs, roads, and electricity to poor
regions. Men and women with little other choice for work and communities
living in extreme poverty have had to make the Faustian tradeoffㅡtypically
- 69 -
not out of their own choice: incur increased risks of lung disease and other
health problems in exchange for jobs and income.
Each year 14,000 mine workers are killed at accidents on the job, and
many more are exposed to chemicals or particulates that increase their
risks of respiratory disorders and certain kinds of cancers. There have been
significant improvements in mine safety in the last few decades, but mining
is still the world's most hazardous occupation. According to the International
Labour Organization (ILO), the sector employs less than 1% of all workers
but is responsible for 5% of all worker deaths on the job.
Prostitution and drug use are serious problems at mining camps where
migrant workers live, which has led to a high incidence of sexually
transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, about 30% of
workers at gold mines are HIV positive.
3.1.2. Pollution from Extracting Fossil Fuels.
3.1.2.1. Pollution from Coal.
3.1.2.1.1. Damage from Mining Accidents.
Though safety standards have greatly improved, coal mining has been
one of the most dangerous and environmentally damaging of all the major
industries. Many thousands of miners have been killed or injured in mining
accidents in countries such as Turkey, China and India, and large numbers
have had their health impaired by breathing coal dust and working in dark,
wet and cramped conditions.
3.1.2.1.2. Emission of Carbon and Sulphur Dioxides and Nitrous Oxides.
Coal's main disadvantage is the pollution it causes in its mining,
transportation and use. Sulphur and ash content are especially high in soft
coals, but all coals give off the fossil fuel problem emissions such as
sulphur dioxide (the cause of acid rain), nitrous oxides (greenhouse gases
which contribute to ozone smog), particulates (a cause of respiratory
diseases) and carbon dioxide (the cause of global warming).
3.1.2.1.3. Acid Mine Drainage.
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Acid mine drainage refers to water with high concentrations of sulfuric
acid draining out of surface or subsurface coal mines. The sulfur-laden
water originates from rainwater percolating through numerous fractures in
crushed sulfur-rich coal in the mines. Prior to the 1950s, coal mining was
conducted with little regard for its environmental impact. Today, the
greatest problem with acid mine drainage generally stems from abandoned
deep mines. Effluent from abandoned mine sites continues to be the leading
water quality problem. However, China, India and other developing countries
have still based their energy future on coal, while seeking to make use of
affordable new technologies for reducing the environmental impact.
3.1.2.1.4. Damage from Metal Exposures.
The increased use of coal in the future will also increase metal
exposures because coal ash contains many toxic metals and can be
breathed deeply into the lungs. For countries such as China and India, which
continue to rely on high-ash coal as a primary energy source, the health
implications are ominous. Coal can be washed to reduce its ash content but
this itself consumes energy and creates a waste water problem (Silver and
Rothman 1995:7).
Coal contains a small amount of radioactive uranium, barium and thorium,
around or slightly more than the average concentration of those elements in
the Earth's crust. They become more concentrated in the fly ash because
they do not burn well (Ojovan and Lee 2005:315).
However, the radioactivity of fly ash is still very low. It is about the
same as black shale and is less than phosphate rocks, but is more of a
concern because a small amount of the fly ash ends up in the atmosphere
where it can be inhaled (USGS 1997:57-69).
3.1.2.2. Pollution from Oil.
Oil is a natural product which quickly breaks down in sea water.
Chemical dispersants may do more harm than the oil itself, though heavy
spillages close to shorelines can be disastrous for local sea birds and other
forms of marine life. Of even greater concern is the build-up of atmospheric
carbon dioxide caused by burning oil and other fossil fuels, and the pollution
- 71 -
caused by sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds
(VOCs).
Residues from the oil and gas industry often contain radium and its
daughters. The sulphate scale from an oil well can be very radium rich,
while the water, oil and gas from a well often contains radon. The radon
decays to form solid radioisotopes which form coatings on the inside of
pipe-work. In an oil processing plant the area of the plant where propane is
processed is often one of the more contaminated areas of the plant as
radon has a similar boiling point as propane.
3.1.2.3. Pollution from Natural Gas.
Though natural gas produces less pollution and carbon dioxide than oil
and coal, it also gives off the fossil fuel problem emissions such as sulphur
dioxide, nitrous oxides and carbon dioxide. Methane is 21 times more
powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, so pipeline leaks have to
be carefully monitored.
3.1.2.4. Oil Leakage.
Oil spills, from crude to used forms, not only in infamous cases like the
Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989 and acts of war in
the Persian Gulf in 2001, but also in the little collision between an oil
tanker and a barge in the West Sea in South Korea in 2007, can be
disastrous for marine life and ecological system.
For example, a total of 38,000 tonnes of crude oil spewed out into the
pristine subarctic waters of the estuary with devastating results by the
accident of the supertanker Exxon Valdez running around on reefs in Prince
William Sound, Alaska in March 1989. The oil slick lost from the Exxon
Vldez had spread 750 km down the Alaskan coastline from Prince William
Sound into the Gulf of Alaska through Montague Strait. which was the worst
incident in the United States waters.
3.1.2.5. Acid Rain.
Acid rain originates from sulfur dioxides and nitrous oxides emitted by
motor vehicles, smelters, and especially electrical utility plants using high
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sulfur coal.
Acid rain kills aquatic life in lakes, streams, and bays. It also
destroys forests and other vegetation and thereby deprives wild animals of
their habitats. It damages crops and corrodes buildings and historical
monuments.
3.1.2.6. Discharge of Radioactive Wastes.
Radioactive
wastes
are
waste
types
containing
radioactive-chemical
elements that do not have a practical purpose. They are sometimes the
products of nuclear processes such as nuclear fission. However, other
industries not directly connected to the nuclear industry can produce large
quantities of radioactive waste. For instance, over the past 20 years it is
estimated that just the oil-producing endeavors of the US have accumulated
8 million tons of radioactive waste (Silver and Rothman 1995:7-8).
3.1.3. Damage from Extracting Heavy Metals.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the production of heavy metals such as
lead, copper, and zinc has increased exponentially. Between 1850 and 1990,
production of these three metals increased nearly 10 times, with emissions
rising in tandem (Nriagu 1996:223).
Heavy metals have been used in a variety of ways for at least 2
millennia. For example, lead has been used in plumbing, and lead arsenate
has been used to control insects in apple orchards. The Romans added lead
to wine to improve its taste, and mercury was used as a salve to alleviate
teething pain in infants. Lead is still widely used as an additive in gasoline
(Eaton and Robertson 1994:116-117).
3.1.3.1. Toxicity of Heavy Metals.
The toxicity of heavy metals has been documented throughout history:
Greek and Roman physicians diagnosed symptoms of acute lead poisoning
long before toxicology became a science. Today, much more is known about
the health effects of heavy metals. Exposure to heavy metals has been
linked with developmental retardation, various cancers, kidney damage, and
even
death
in
some
instances
because
concentrations.
- 73 -
of
exposure
to
very
high
Exposure to high levels of mercury, gold and lead has also been
associated with the development of autoimmunity, in which the immune
system starts to attack its own cells, mistaking them for foreign invaders
(Glover-Kerkvliet 1995:236-237).
Autoimmunity can lead to the development of diseases of the joints and
kidneys, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or diseases of the circulatory or
central nervous systems (Glover-Kerkvliet 1995:237). Despite abundant
evidence of these deleterious health effects, exposure to heavy metals
continues and may increase in the absence of concerted policy actions.
3.1.3.2. Toxic Emissions from Heavy Metals
Once emitted, metals can reside in the environment for hundreds of
years or more. Evidence of human exploitation of heavy metals has been
found in the ice cores in Greenland and sea water in the Antarctic. The
lead content of ice layers deposited annually in Greenland show a steady
rise that parallels the mining renaissance in Europe, reaching values 100
times the natural background level in the mid-1990s (Nriagu 1996:223).
Mining of heavy metals is itself a major route of exposure. Despite some
noted improvements in worker safety and cleaner production, mining remains
one of the most hazardous and environmentally damaging industries. In
Bolivia, toxic sludge from a zinc mine in the Andes had killed aquatic life
along a 300-kilometer stretch of river system in 1996.
It also threatened the livelihood and health of 50,000 of the region's
subsistence farmers (Edwards 1996:4). Uncontrolled smelters have produced
some of the world's only environmental "dead zones," where little or no
vegetation survives. For instance, toxic emissions from the Sudbury, Ontario,
nickel smelter have devastated 10,400 hectares of forest downwind of the
smelter (Young 1992:21).
3.1.4. Environmental Impact from Small-scale Mining.
3.1.4.1. Damages from Mercury Use
Mercury is still extensively used in gold mining in many parts of Latin
America. The use of mercury in small-scale mining techniques has health
and
environmental
consequences.
Mercury
is
discharged
into
the
environment when miners fail to recover mercury tailings, either by dumping
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waste
directly
into
rivers
or
by
releasing
mercury
vapors
into
the
atmosphere when the mercury-gold compound is burned.
Small-scale miners use inorganic mercury, which is often converted
through natural processes into toxic organic and inorganic compounds. Of
greatest concern is the highly toxic organic compound, methyl mercury,
which forms in rivers and lakes when micro-organisms metabolize metallic
mercury. This toxic form of mercury then accumulates in fish and when
ingested causes mercury poisoning in humans.
Metallic or inorganic mercury can also be hazardous if it is transformed
into gas from its liquid state; in a recent case, teenagers in the United
States who handled liquid mercury were hospitalized for mercury poisoning
after
samples
of
the
silvery
substance
formed
a
hazardous
vapor.
Although symptoms differ for poisoning by inorganic and organic mercury,
both kinds may result in nervous system disorders, birth defects, or death.
Estimates for the amount of mercury released into the environment as a
result of small-scale mining vary from 1-4 kilograms per kilogram of gold
extracted (Hutcheson 1998:12).
In
the
Amazon
Basin
alone,
between
90-120
tons
of mercury is
discharged annually into local rivers (Malm et al. 1990:11-15). In Venezuela,
the amount of mercury lost in the environment is estimated to exceed 10
tons per year (Nriagu et al. 1992:389). While the impact of mercury
pollution may be severe at a site of mining activity, it is by no means
restricted to that area and can affect communities many kilometers away
(Stallard 1995:73).
In Venezuela, substantial metallic mercury deposits have been found to
exist in the bottom of a river where mining is occurring, and as of 1989,
fish were beginning to show evidence of mercury contamination (Malm et al.
1990:11-15). Nonetheless, without baseline data on the water quality and
composition of the river bottom materials before mining began, it is difficult
to determine with any certainty how much mercury has been deposited in
local riverbeds as a result of small-scale mining operations (Litos 1989:7).
3.1.4.2. Soil and Water Damage
Most small-scale mining, mostly operated in under-developed countries,
increase sedimentation in rivers through the use of hydraulic pumps and
suction dredges. By blasting hillsides with water under high pressure,
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hydraulic pumps leave scars on the landscape, which may take years to
develop even the lightest covering of vegetation.
Since most small-scale miners do not preserve the topsoil removed
before excavation begins, this topsoil is often washed away into surface
water, carrying with it ecologically valuable seed banks that are necessary
for the regeneration of vegetation. Additionally, few small-scale miners
engage in reclamation or post-mining recovery practices.
3.1.5. Damage from Closed Mines.
3.1.5.1. Acid Mine Drainage.
Mining's effects frequently persist long after an operation is closed. Acid
drainage is an especially long-lived problem. This happens when a mining
operation
excavates
rock
that
contains
sulfide
minerals.
When
these
materials are exposed to oxygen and water, they react to form sulfuric acid.
This acid will continue to form, and to drain out of the rock, as long as the
rock is exposed to air and water and the sulfides have not been depleted a process that can take hundreds or thousands of years.
Once a mine reaches the end of its operational lifetime, ground-water is
contaminated by acid water drainage and
eventually flowed into rivers and
dams, and adjacent soils are polluted with heavy metals such as cadmium,
lead and so forth which come out of abandoned mine sites.
The Iron Mountain mine in northern California, for instance, has been
closed since 1963 but continues to drain sulfuric acid, along with heavy
metals such as cadmium and zinc, into the Sacramento River. The river's
bright orange water is completely devoid of life. Experts report that the
mine may continue to leach acid for another 3,000 years.
3.1.5.2. Pollution of Groundwater.
Ground-water pollution from mining is exacerbated by abandoned and
derelict mines, which threaten to decant acid mine drainage into the
country's water courses. Under normal circumstances, operational mines
pump water out of the underground workings to facilitate underground
operations and to prevent the water from becoming polluted by the
operations
as
well
as
to
secure
access
- 76 -
to
mineral
reserves
(Tyrer
2006:8-9).
However, once a mine reaches the end of its operational lifetime and
pumping activities cease, clean ground-water can reach mined-out areas
where it becomes exposed to iron sulphides, which causes the water to
become contaminated with heavy metals and salts. The contaminated water,
which is known as acid mine drainage, rises to the surface through shaft
entrances, decanting into adjacent mines and eventually reaches rivers and
dams.
Beside acid mine drainage, mining operations can affect water quality
through heavy metal contamination and leaching of slime dams, processing
chemical pollution, erosion and sedimentation and tailings pollution.
3.2. Climate Change from Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) Emissions.
Rapid environmental change is all around us. The most obvious example
is climate change alarmed by the Creator today. If we do not act to recover
it, the true cost of our failure will be borne by succeeding generations,
starting with ours. That would be an unconscionable legacy; one which we
must all join hands to avert. So, the climate change is not only a political
and geological problem, but also an ethical and peace problem for all
creatures (Choi 2008:1).
Mr. Utah Phillips, an American singer, said that "the earth is not dying. It
is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses." It is
necessary for us to make it clear that while the earth is being killed, we
are indulging ourselves in human civilization so much.
A population of 6.5 billion used the equivalent of 9.3 billion tons of oil,
which released 7.6 billion tons of carbon emissions in 2005. Much of this
oil, coal and natural gas supported consumer lifestyleㅡliterally fueling
nearly 900 million vehicles on the roads and 3.7 trillion kilometers that
passengers flew in planes in 2006, as well as keeping houses warm, lights
on, and factories running. Our activities raised the atmospheric levels of
carbon dioxide by 2.2 parts per million (ppm) in 2006, bringing the total to
382 ppm, which is 100 ppm higher than pre-industrial level, that resulted in
2006 being the fifth hottest year since 1880.
Weather-related disasters are already having dramatic impacts on all the
animals and natures as well as human beings. The climate change is just
one indicator of the threats we face as a rigorous alarm from the Creator,
- 77 -
God of grace. At least 60% of ecosystem services are being degraded or
used unsustainably, according to the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment
(Worldwatch Institute 2007:9-10).
The people causing this destruction have name and addresses. They
include you and me and all the other consumers in the world. They include
politicians who make empty promises or no promises at all. They include
corporate executives who continue to ignore the realities of doing business
on a finite and fragile planet and instead put profit over long-term concerns
by encouraging consumers to crave various kinds of goods that are bad for
them and the planet.
3.2.1. Causes of Climate Change.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution around 1750, human
beings have emitted significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the
troposphere by three activities. One has been the sharp rise in the use of
fossil fuels, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and CH4.
Another is deforestation and clearing and burning of grasslands to raise
crops, releasing CO2 and N2O. The third is cultivation of rice in paddies and
use
of
inorganic
fertilizers,
releasing
N2O in the
troposphere
(Miller
2004:280-304).
There is no doubt that CO2 among such greenhouse gases is leading to
significant changes in the climate. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) released its strongest statement yet linking rising
CO2 emissions and increasing global temperatures. Some 2,500 experts
concluded with at least 90% certainty that the observed warming over the
last 50 years has been caused by human activities and that discernible
human influences are now apparent in changed precipitation and storm
intensity and in other instances of extreme weather worldwide (Jung,
2007:8).
The two largest contributors to CO2 emissions are the world's thousands
of coal-burning power and industrial plants and millions of gasoline-burning
vehicles. Nor is there doubt that these changes will impose huge costs. The
question is no longer whether we can afford to do something, but rather
how to control emissions in an equitable and effective way.
The United States is the largest polluter in the world. But she refused to
sign the Kyoto Protocol. China is in a race to be the world's worst polluter
- 78 -
with the United States. And there are no requirements put on developing
countries to control the GHGs emissions in the Protocol, even though they
will contribute half or more of emissions. Additionally, nothing was done
about deforestation in the Protocol, which is contributing to global warming
as
well.
Indonesia
might
be
the
third
polluter
owing
to
its
rapid
deforestation.
3.2.2. Emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
Carbon emissions continue rise unrelentingly. In 2006, atmosphere carbon
dioxide (CO2) concentrations reached 381.84 parts per million by volume
(7.60 billion tons). Average CO2 concentrations have risen 20.8% since
measurements began in 1959 and are now more than 100 parts per million
higher than in pre-industrial times.
Fossil fuel burning represents about 80% of this increase. In 2006, the
carbon emissions of 7.60 billion tons means to emit more than one ton for
every person on earth. Annual emissions from fossil fuels have risen 17%
just since 2000 as shown in the table 2.
The average global temperature increased from 13.85 degree Celsius in
1950 to 14.54 in 2006. The climate is warming most rapidly at the poles.
Over the past century, Arctic temperature rose at almost twice the global
average rate. One model projects that Arctic summers could be ice-free by
2040. In late 2006, the U.S. Interior Department proposed adding polar
bears to the list of threatened species as accelerating ice loss threatens
their habitat.
Table 3.2: Global Average Temperature and Carbon Emission from Fossil
Fuel Burning and Atmospheric Concentration of Carbon Dioxide.
Year
1950
Atmospheric Concentrations of CO2
Carbon Emissions
Temperature.
1960
1970
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000
2005
2006
-
316.91 325.68 338.68 345.90 354.19 360.88 369.48 379.66 381.84
1.61
13.85
2.53
4.00
5.21
5.30
5.99
6.21
6.45
7.56
7.60
13.99 14.03 14.18 14.06 14.38 14.38 14.33 14.63 14.54
Sources: GISS, BP, IEA, CDIAC, DOE, and Scripps Inst. of Oceanography.
Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs 2007-2008, New York, 2007, p.43.
The United States remains the world's top emitter, accounting for over
21% of carbon emission from fossil fuel burning in 2005. But the largest
- 79 -
increases occurred in Asia. China's emission rose 9.1% in 2005. Experts
predict that China will emit more carbon from fossil fuel consumption than
the United States does before 2010.
Table 3.3: CO2 Emission Situation of Major Countries in 2004.
Annual Emission
(million tons)
USA
7,074
China
4,938
Russia
1,952
India
1,884
Japan
1,355
Germany
1,015
Brazil
851
Canada
758
England
659
Italy
583
South Korea
521
Country
Per Capita Emission
(ton)
19.73
3.65
10.63
1.02
9.52
10.29
1.76
17.24
8.98
7.95
9.61
Increasing Rate from
1990 to 2000 (%)
15.2
32.3
-36.4
41.5
9.6
-16.7
24.8
20.9
-10.1
7.1
79.1
Source: Korean National Statistical Office, International Statistics
Yearbook 2007/BP/IEA/Hankyuhrae Shinmoon, June 1, 2007.
3.2.3. Impact of Climate Change.
Floods, droughts, melting ice caps, disappearing coastlines, deadly heat
waves and bizarre weather are all the signs of climatic upheaval from global
warming
caused
by
the
continued
build-up
of
carbon
dioxide
and
greenhouse gases. The heatwaves, floods, and droughts could cause hunger
for millions of people and water shortages for billions, with the world's poor
hit the hardest.
Weather-related disasters are often perceived as natural events, but
many actions have a hand in their creation. For example, climate change is
warming sea temperatures, which can lead to stronger hurricanes. Sea
levels rising threatens low-lying areas, especially during storms. Damage to
mangrove forests and coral reefs weakens natural storm defenses. And with
more people forced to live in undesirable, riskier areas, the potential for
disaster is ever higher.
However, most developing countries may not feel responsible for the
vast majority of the carbon dioxide hanging around in the atmosphere.
Because most of it has been emitted by Western advanced countries during
their own development over the past 200 years.
- 80 -
Ironically, experts predict climate change will disproportionately affect
poorer countries and communities, and insist on the need for solidarity in
the fight against global warming. Climate change accompanied by the
aforementioned disasters is more unfavourable to the socio-economically
weak, who are usually less responsible for the advent of climate change and
have less ability to cope with the impact of climate change. Namely, the
least responsible are the most vulnerable to climate change.
It has turned out that Africa is the continent most suffering from the
impact of climate change. Most of Africa will be hit the hardest if climate
change continues in its current course. So, it is necessary to set up an
international supporting system for the poor and Africa.
3.2.4. The Kyoto Protocol.
Under the Kyoto Protocol established in 1997 by the U.N. Convention on
Climate Change adopted in 1992, developed country members are legally
required to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed to cut
greenhouse gas emissions collectively by an average of 5% of 1990 levels
over the first commitment period from 2008 to 2012. Each member country
has its own specified target listed in an annex.
Developing countries are not required to commit to their emission
reductions because of their lower development level and little contribution
to the historical buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They might
commit to collect data on greenhouse gases at the national level and
formulate national measures for developed countries to provide them with
finances and technologies concerned with global warming.
However,
some
countries
are
no
longer
satisfied
with
developing
countries' exemption from binding emission cuts and suggesting for the
second period to place new conditions targeting big countries like China and
India and more industrialized countries such as South Korea and Brazil.
They are also calling for comprehensive negotiations for a new post-2012
treaty to pull developing countries into making their commitments with
different levels for different developing countries. Another problem is the
refusal of the United States to join the Kyoto Protocol and follow its
emission targets. She has complained about letting big countries off the
hook, and used it as a reason for pulling out of the Protocol.
So, the year of 2012 is very important because the first commitment
- 81 -
period ends and the second period starts in 2013 to carry out the new
agreed binding targets for further reducing their emissions. Global warming
is too important to be held hostage in another attempt at squeezing the
poor. It is obviously our urgent duty to heal the climate change caused by
human beings and alarmed the Creator God. So, we should talk an effective,
comprehensive
and
equitable
post-2012
international
climate
change
arrangement based on the will of God as the post-Kyoto Protocol to control
GHG emissions perfectly.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged at the United Nations
Climate Change Conference held at Bali, Indonesia December 3-14, 2007
that the world must reach an agreement by 2009 for a new treaty to meet
"the moral challenge of our generation." Succeeding generations depend on
us, we need to set a road-map to a more secure climate future. We can not
rob our children of their future (Cho 2007:3).
3.3. Environmental Impact from Nuclear Power Plants.
3.3.1. Concern from Nuclear Power Plants.
Concern for the effects on the future of nuclear power plants has
focused on high cost, reactor accident risks, radioactive waste management,
and potential links in the spread of nuclear weapons.
3.3.1.1. Handling of Radioactive Waste.
When trying to establish a long term nuclear energy production plan, the
issue of disposal methods for nuclear waste has been one of the most
pressing current problems, which stems from uncertainties, complications
and setbacks in handling the issue properly.
3.3.1.2. Risking Future Generations.
Although
managing
issues
for
radioactive
waste
have
been
raised
concerning possible consequences for future generations in the past three
decades, many risk decisions may impose risks on future generations that
require a different kind of consideration from risks to people living today.
The long-term existence of radioactive waste results in referring to the
- 82 -
issue of inter-generational equity.
3.3.1.3. Proliferation Concerns for Nuclear Weapons.
Even though being dismantled by the major nations, nuclear weapons are
growing in number due to the production of these mass destruction weapons
through using the materials generated from nuclear plants. This is another
unfortunate legacy for future generations.
When dealing with uranium and plutonium, the possibility that they may
be used to build nuclear weapons is often a concern. Active nuclear
reactors and nuclear weapon stockpiles are very carefully safeguarded and
controlled.
However, high-level waste from nuclear reactors may contain plutonium.
Ordinarily, this plutonium is reactor-grade plutonium, containing a mixture of
plutonium-239 (highly suitable for building nuclear weapons), plutonium-240
(an undesirable contaminant and highly radioactive), plutonium-241, and
plutonium-238; these isotopes are difficult to separate.
Moreover, high-level waste is full of highly radioactive fission products.
However, most fission products are relatively short-lived. This is a concern
since if the waste is stored, perhaps in deep geological storage, over many
years the fission products decay, decreasing the radioactivity of the waste
and making the plutonium easier to access. Moreover, the undesirable
contaminant Pu-240 decays faster than the Pu-239, and thus the quality of
the bomb material increases with time (although its quantity decreases).
Thus, some have argued, as time passes, these deep storage areas have
the potential to become "plutonium mines", from which material for nuclear
weapons can be acquired with relatively little difficulty. Critics of the latter
idea point out that the half-life of Pu-240 is 6,560 years and of Pu-239
24,110 years, and thus the relative enrichment of one isotope to the other
with time occurs with a half-life of 9,000 years.
The weapon grade plutonium mines would be a problem for the very far
future (9,000 years from now), so that there remains a great deal of time
for technology to advance and solve this problem, before it becomes acute.
Pu-239 decays to U-235 which is suitable for weapons and which has a
very long half life (roughly 109 years). Thus plutonium may decay and
leave uranium-235. However, modern reactors are only moderately enriched
with U-235 relative to U-238, so the U-238 continues to serve as
- 83 -
denaturation agent for any U-235 produced by plutonium decay.
One solution to this problem is to recycle the plutonium and use it as a
fuel e.g. in fast reactors. But in the minds of some, the very existence of
the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant needed to separate the plutonium from
the other elements represents proliferation concern. In pyrometallurgical fast
reactors, the waste generated is an actinide compound that cannot be used
for nuclear weapons.
3.3.1.4. Promoting Energy Consumption.
In order to construct and demolish nuclear power plants and manage
nuclear waste safely, we must do an enormous amount of investment into
nuclear
fields.
Nuclear
power
plants
also
produce
large
amounts
of
electricity. Whereas other types of electrical generation can be limited in
scale, no engineer has come up with an effective design for a truly small
nuclear plant so far.
This is a problem because it requires the consumption of large amounts
of
electricity
to
make
up
for
the
high
construction,
demolition
and
management costs. For highly developed countries, the results in high
consumption need not be an economic problem, but it eventually results in
a serious environmental and social impact. Additionally, the energy demand
is not that high in much of the developing world yet, and the infrastructure
for transmitting electricity throughout sparsely populated areas does not
exist.
3.3.1.5. Technical Stigma.
Other problems associated with nuclear reactors deal with safety, the
fear of radiation, and the presence of an unwanted facility. There is a
stigma attached to nuclear power. Technical stigma is a fact of nuclear
power. So, trying to site a future nuclear plant, hazardous waste site,
low-level waste site, or any industrial facility does produce substantial
public opposition.
In the United States, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste sites have
generated substantial public opposition. Controversy over nuclear energy,
both bombs and reactors, has been exceptionally durable and violent,
exciting more emotion and public protest than any other technology.
- 84 -
3.3.1.6. Apprehensive Substitute Energy.
A fundamental foundation of ecology is that we live on a finite and
self-contained planet. Although the limits of non-renewal resources can be
sometimes
significantly
extended
by
means
of
human
science
and
technology, there are no inexhaustible energy and mineral resources. So,
ecological prudence for resource exhaustion is adaptation to the forces and
restraints of nature that cannot be changed, no matter how sophisticated our
science and technology develops in the future.
Therefore, the resource issue dominated the early days of nuclear
power. Arguments were made that the world has only a finite amount of oil
and gas, so that uranium must be used for energy generation. Then it was
argued that uranium was in short supply, so it would be necessary to
recycle used fuel and to build breeder reactors that could transmute the
large quantities of non-fissile uranium 238 into fissionable material.
However, there are still some serious problems which we should solve
with regard to the use of nuclear energy as the substitute energy for fossil
fuels as mentioned above. We should keep in mind that nuclear energy has
a much higher environmental impact than fossil fuel energy.
3.3.2. Management of Nuclear Waste.
When trying to establish a long term nuclear energy production plan, the
issue of disposal methods for nuclear waste has been one of the most
pressing current problems (www.uic.com.au/nip78.htm).
3.3.2.1. Sources of Radioactive Waste.
Radioactive waste comes from a number of sources. The majority
originate from the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapon reprocessing.
However, other sources include medical and industrial waste as well as
naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) that can be concentrated
as a result of the processing or consumption of coal, oil, gas and some
minerals.
Although not significantly radioactive, uranium mill tailings are waste.
They are byproduct material from the rough processing of uranium-bearing
- 85 -
ore.
Uranium mill tailings also contain chemically-hazardous heavy metals
such as lead and arsenic.
3.3.2.2. Categorization of Radioactive Waste.
In the United State, radioactive waste is categorized as low level waste
(LLW), transuranic waste (TRU), and high level waste (HLW). HLW includes
the spent fuel from commercial and other reactors and government waste
from the production of nuclear weapons. Currently, HLW is generally being
stored at the reactor sites in the country and at several government
facilities.
The majority of radioactive waste is low-level waste, meaning it has low
levels of radioactivity per mass or volume. This type of waste often
consists of used protective clothing, which is only slightly contaminated but
still dangerous in case of radioactive contamination of a human body
through ingestion, inhalation, absorption or injection.
3.3.2.3. Significance of Radioactive Waste.
Radioactive waste typically comprises a number of radioisotopes: unstable
configurations of elements that decay, emitting ionizing radiation which can
be harmful to human health and to the environment. Those isotopes emit
different types and levels of radiation, which last for different periods of
time.
The
radioactivity
of
all
nuclear
waste
diminishes
with
time.
All
radioisotopes contained in the waste have a half-life time it takes for any
radio-nuclide to lose half of its radioactivity, and eventually all radioactive
waste decays into non-radioactive elements.
Certain radioactive elements (such as plutonium-239) in spent fuel will
remain hazardous to humans and other living beings for hundreds of
thousands of years. Other radioisotopes will remain hazardous for millions of
years. Thus, this waste must be shielded for centuries and isolated from the
living environment for hundreds of millennia (www.marathonresources.com.au
/nuclearwaste.asp).
Some elements, such as lodine-131, have a short half-life around 8 days
and thus they will cease to be a problem much more quickly than other,
longer-lived, decay products but their activity is much greater initially.
- 86 -
The faster a radioisotope decays, the more radioactive it will be. The
energy and the type of the ionizing radiation
emitted by a pure radioactive
substance are important factors in deciding how dangerous it will be. The
chemical properties of the radioactive element will determine how mobile
the substance is and how likely it is to spread into the environment and
contaminate human bodies. This is further complicated by the fact that many
radioisotopes do not decay immediately to a stable state but rather to a
radioactive decay product leading to a decay chain.
3.3.2.4. Difficulty of Repository Location.
Establishing a site has not been easy. For example, the Waste Isolation
Pilot Plant (WIPP) site for transuranic waste (TRU) had been under study
for 25 years before opening in 1999. In May of that year, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that there is a reasonable
expectation that WIPP can be counted on to contain the TRU waste for the
next 10,000 years. That points out one of the great difficulties of finding a
repository location. The time period required for safety calculations exceeds
recorded human history (Ojovan and Lee 2005:315).
3.3.2.5. Disposal Target of Radioactive Waste.
The
main objective in managing and disposal of radioactive waste is to
protect people and the environment. This means isolating or diluting the
waste so that the rate or concentration of any radio-nuclides returned to
the biosphere is harmless.
To achieve this, the preferred technology to date has been deep and
secure burial for the more dangerous waste. Transmutation, long-term
retrievable storage, and removal to space have also been suggested. So in
principle the waste needs to be isolated for a particular period of time until
its components have decayed such that they no longer pose a threat. In
practice this can mean periods
of hundreds of thousands of years,
depending on the nature of the waste involved to avoid causing harm to
remote future generations.
3.3.2.6. Disposal of Low Level Waste (LLW).
- 87 -
Low level waste (LLW) is generated from hospitals and industry, as well
as the nuclear fuel cycle. It comprises of paper, rags, tools, clothing, filters,
etc., which contains small amounts of mostly short-lived radioactivity.
Commonly, LLW is designated as such as a precautionary measure if it
originated from any region of an active area, which frequently includes
offices with only a remote possibility of being contaminated with radioactive
materials.
Such LLW typically exhibits no higher radioactivity than one would
expect from the same material disposed of in a non-active area, such as a
normal office block. Some high activity LLW requires shielding during
handling and transport but most LLW is suitable for shallow land burial. To
reduce its volume, it is often compacted or incinerated before disposal.
Low level waste is divided into four classes, class A, B, C and GTCC,
which means greater than class C. Intermediate level waste (ILW) contains
higher amounts of radioactivity and in some cases requires shielding. ILW
includes resins, chemical sludge and metal reactor fuel cladding, as well as
contaminated materials from reactor decommissioning. It may be solidified in
concrete or bitumen for disposal.
3.3.2.7. Disposal of High Level Waste (HLW).
High level waste (HLW) is produced by nuclear reactors. It contains
fission products and transuranic elements generated in the reactor core. It
is highly radioactive and often thermally hot. HLW accounts for over 95% of
the
total
radioactivity
produced
in
the
process
of
nuclear
electricity
generation. The amount of HLW worldwide is currently increasing by about
12,000 metric tons every year, which is the equivalent of about 100
double-decker buses or a two-story structure built on top of a basketball
court (Babu and Karthik 2005:93-102).
3.3.3. Issue of Inter-Generational Equity.
The predominant inter-generational issue associated with nuclear waste
is that of radioactive waste, primarily the HLW from spent fuel. International
bodies have taken the position that in disposal methods, future generations
should not be asked to bear a burden any greater than that borne by
present generations.
- 88 -
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stressed that it is
responsible today to deal with the future: "The objective of radioactive
waste management is to deal with radioactive waste in a manner that
protects human health and the environment now and in the future without
imposing undue burdens on future generations" (par. 314). The IAEA has
also stated that "radioactive waste shall be managed in a way that predicted
impacts on the health of future generations do not exceed relevant levels
that are acceptable today" (par. 314).
What are "undue burdens," and who decides what is acceptable? Kristen
Shrader-Frechette has written:
All alleged risk reductions are actually risk tradeoffs, and one cannot
diminish one risk without increasing another......Indeed, throughout life,
we exchange risks rather than remove them, and we increase our risks
to gain something more valuable.
If a geologic repository is built, the waste would be stored in containers
that should not fail for at least 1,000 years, and probably longer. Thus, for
the present generation, there would be no risk because the waste cannot
get to the surface and cause radiation exposure. But at some unknown
future time, a container will fail, and eventually a radionuclide will enter the
biosphere. Since some radionuclides will be around for several hundred
thousand years, there will be a burden on any people living then that would
be greater than the burden on the present generation.
The current focus is to try to design waste packaging and a repository
that will be able to last at least 10,000 years. Can we imagine to hold up
over such a long time frame? But a National Academy of Sciences study
indicated that there is no technical basis to stop at 10,000 years, because
the estimated dose that could be received external to the site would
continue to rise until perhaps a million years.
A major difficulty in concluding that a HLW repository should be
constructed now relates to the uncertainty in estimates of long-term
releases. Those opposed to a repository do not believe that a convincing
case has been made that the current repositories will be safe for such long
periods of time. The opponents ask, "For how long should we be concerned
that the nuclear waste is safely stored?" and "How do we protect the future
environment and people?" This is called the issue of inter-generational
- 89 -
equity.
It is clear that we should not punish our children and grandchildren
today, in order to fend off wholly imaginary demons in the unforeseeable
future. On the other hand we cannot leave problems for future generations
that cannot be resolved today. But it is also of serious concern that doing
nothing today may lead to far greater hazards in the future. Nonetheless,
we have a responsibility to handle them wisely, not only for the present but
also for the future. This is not a technical mandate but an ethical and
theological one of long-standing significance (Ahearne 2000:763-770).
- 90 -
Chapter IV: Environmental Impact from Mining Activities and Nuclear
Plants in Korea.
South Korea   has accomplished a very compressed form of economic
growth over the last 50 years. But the rapid economic growth has been
accompanied by rapid ecological dilapidation and environmental pollution.
The environment was sacrificed by pursuing more economic growth through
industrialization. However, the Korean people's recognition of the value of
the
environment
was
revitalized
with
the
experience
of
several
environmental disasters including the phenol accident in the Nakdong river
in 1991, the acid drainages from closed mines in 2006, and the oil spill in
the West Sea in 2007 etc.
Economic growth has made people pay more attention to aspects of
quality of life which is mostly dependent upon the quality of the surrounding
environment. Since democratization from the long lasting military government
in
1987,
environmental
environmental
destruction
movements
and
have
have
also
actively
grown
engaged
as
in
rapidly
as
environmental
recovery and protection.
However, most of Korean churches used to distance themselves from
environmental movements except voluntarily participating in the oil-removing
activities in the west seacoast polluted by the oil spill disaster in December
2007. They have not particularly concerned themselves with an ecological
mission for mining activities and nuclear power plants in South Korea. They
are of the opinion that environmental issues are only for the government
and specialized non-government agencies, not for the churches.
--------------1) Korea is located between 124 11'E and 135 53'E and between 33 06N
and 43 01N. Its area is 221.467 km , of which length and width are about
1,000 km and 216 km respectively at its shortest point. It is surrounded by
the East Sea, West Sea and South Sea. Korea is divided by the Republic of
Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North
Korea). The governing area of South Korea is 99,117 km
(about 45% of
total area). Due to the rising of the eastern part of Korea, about 67% of
Korean territory is geomorphologically characterized by abundant hills and
mountains. The population of South Korea is 48.45 million people in 2007.
- 91 -
4.1. Korean Political and Economic Context.
4.1.1. Economic Growth Trends.
The Koreans are one ethnic family speaking one language and they have
a strong cultural identity. A number of wars led to reconstruction efforts
which were highly successful in promoting national prosperity and stability.
Thus, modern day Korea is a nation that has rebuilt itself from the
devastation of wars and has achieved an economic miracle in just 50 years.
Some of the factors that are generally cited to explain the "economic
miracle"
include
the
strong
government
support,
the
export-oriented
economic strategy, the emphasis on high technology in industrial policy and
the abundance of highly skilled and educated labourers.
An outward-oriented economic development strategy contributed greatly
to the radical economic transformation of South Korea. As a result of such
a strategy, Korean exports have rapidly increased from US$ 55 million in
1962 to US$ 371,489 million in 2007 as shown in table 1. Korea's major
industries include electronics, automobiles, semi- conductors, steel products,
shipbuilding, textiles and so on.
Since the financial crisis in 1997, Korea has achieved the most rapid
economic
growth
among
countries
belonging
to
the
Organization
for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with an annual growth of
6%. As a result of the rapid economic growth, Korea's gross domestic
product (GDP) increased from US$ 2.3 billion in 1962 to US$ 7,821 billion
in 2007, with its per capita GDP soaring from US$ 87 in 1962 to US$
20,045 in 2007. The number of cars has also sharply increased from 10.4
million vehicles in 1997 to 16.4 million in 2007. With a history as one of
the fastest growing economies in the world, Korea is now working to
become the financial and business hub of Northeast Asia in the 21st century
(KEEI 2008:253-265).
Nevertheless, it has accomplished little progress on the environmental
fields of air, water and waste management as pointed out in the OECD
environmental report in 2007. The major environmental problems South
Korea is now facing is the increasing emission of CO2, nuclear waste
treatment
and pollutions from the closed mines spread all over the country.
Therefore, it has become unrgent to consider seriously the environmental
impact of the continuing supply of energy and mineral resources to meet
- 92 -
such a rapid economic growth.
Table 4.1: Export and Import Trends of Korea. Unit: US$ Million.
Year
1962
1970
1980
1995
2000
2005
2006
2007
Exports
55
835
17,505
65,016 172,268 284,419
325,465 371,489
Imports
422
1,984
22,292
69,844 160,481 261,238
309,383 356,846
Source: Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI), Yearbook of Energy
Statistics, 2008, p. 256.
4.1.2. Demand for Energy and Mineral Resources.
Korea has needed a great deal of energy and mineral resources to meet
the increasing demand for her rapid economic growth. In order to meet the
requirements for mineral resources, she promoted domestic mining activities,
but was faced with serious difficulties as a result of the deepening and
narrowing of mines, except in the case of some minerals such as anthracite
coal, limestone, pyrophyllite, kaolin, sulphur etc. Consequently, she has
made an effort to develop overseas energy and mineral resources.
After going through the serious energy shortage from the oil shock in
1973 and 1979 by OPEC, she has developed nuclear power plants from the
1970s. However, most western countries have suspended and/or decreased
the development of plants as a result of the serious impact of accidents at
three-mile-away Island in America and Chernobyl in Russia, treatment of
nuclear waste and technical stigma as mentioned in 3.2.1.
In her energy and minerals development drive to meet the rapid
increasing requirements, she confronts some serious environmental and
ethical problems at the moment in the light of the demand for sustainable
development.
4.1.3. Hot Political Issue.
Korea is the only country in the world that is divided into two states as
the result of the superpower hegemony of the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union
during the Cold War. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, epochal changes in
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union brought an end to the Cold War, while
South Korea moved swiftly to exploit the situation by actively promoting a
"Northern Diplomacy." South Korea's energetic pursuit of the Northern
- 93 -
Diplomacy contributed to the enhancing of its ties with North Korea and
former socialist countries, which had languished due to ideological and
structural differences.
As a result of these efforts in bringing about a peaceful coexistence
between
South
and
North
Korea,
the
Agreement
on
Reunification,
Nonaggression and Exchanges and Cooperation (the Basic South-North
Agreement) and the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula were concluded in 1991. The people of South Korea have surely
recognized that these historic documents represent a step towards their
common political target of the peaceful reunification of a divided nation.
In spite of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula in 1991, North Korea finally announced at the end of 2004 that it
had
already
developed
some
nuclear
weapons
in
the
vindication
of
protecting its territorial right. Nevertheless, South Korea is pursuing its
diplomacy through dialogue in dealing with the nuclear issue posed by North
Korea in coordination with U.S.A., Japan, China, Russia, the European Union,
and other countries (KOIS 2008:49-60).
4.2. Mining Situation of South Korea.
Korea is a small state and has poor natural resources. But Korea has
rapidly consumed its energy and mineral resources to meet the rapidly
increasing demand for mineral resources as a result of her rapid economic
growth and welfare promotion.
4.2.1. Historical Summary of Mining Industry.
With Korean mining activities starting from the neolithic and bronze era,
the Silla (B.C. 57 - A,D. 935) and Baekje dynasty (B.C. 18 - A.D. 660)
transferred their high steel-manufacturing techniques to Japan. But the
Choseon dynasty with a self-sufficient economy based on agriculture
down-played mining and manufacturing activities due to practicing the
principle of confucianism.
The Mines Act was promulgated in 1906 by the Japanese colonial
government
for
the
first
time
in
Korea.
The
Japanese
government
continually used the Mines Decree to exploit mineral resources in full swing
- 94 -
in Korea to supply strategic war materials such as tungsten, iron and coal
etc., and the Gold Mining Decree to monopolize the gold mines by the
Japanese and to build war funds. During the colonial period of Japan, Korea
was the second largest gold-producing country in the world. The reckless
mining activities under Japanese colonial rule caused serious environmental
damages in Korea (KORES 2003:5-9).
After
independence
from
Japan
in
1945,
the
Korean
government
encouraged the mining industry to build the foundation funds for a Korea
totally destroyed by World War II.
The mining law was firstly enacted in
December 1951 during the Korean War between South and North Korea
(1951-1953). The mining industry had played a pivotal role in the Korean
economy so that
mineral products accounted for 78% of the total export
earnings in 1953.
Korea established the Korea Resources Corporation to promote the
mining industry to meet the increasing need for mineral resources as a
result of her rapid economic growth, and set up the Korea Petroleum
Development Corporation to prevent the serious energy shortage after the
oil crises by OPEC.
In spite of trying to promote the domestic mining industry, most of the
metallic mining and smelting works were ceased in the 1980s as a result of
scanty reserves and the deepening of mines. Most of the metal mines were
also shut down due to poor development conditions, except a number of
iron and titanium mines currently in normal operation.
Anthracite coal as fuel material has lost its international competitiveness
since the late 1980s as a result of environmental problems. The anthracite
coal industry in South Korea has been rationalized due to its poor
development conditions and environment impact.
Thus, Korea has resorted to import about 99% of her energy and metal
consumption.
However,
the
non-metal
mines
are
still
viable.
Their
non-metal products account for 72.78% of her requirements in 2007
(KIGAM 2008:5-7; KEEI 2008:12-13).
4.2.2. Register Trends of Mining Areas.
There are 330 kinds of minerals identified in Korea so far. 66 kinds
- 95 -
among them were registered as legal minerals (36 for metallic and 20 for
non-metallic minerals). The 20 kinds were under operation in 2007, of
which 6 were metallic and 14 non-metallic (KORES 2007:13-17).
However, the registered numbers of mining areas have sharply decreased
from 12,036 in 1990 to 5,284 in 2006 due to the closure of mines with low
profits as a result of their scanty reserves, the deepening of mines, and
increasing environmental impacts as shown in the table 2. The numbers of
operating mines have decreased to 506 in 2007 from 830 in 1985,
diminishing the mining workers from 13,719 in 1985 to 3,739 in 2007 as
shown in table 2.
So, the Korean government has been pursuing a development of overseas
mineral resources instead of her domestic ones to meet the rapid increasing
demand of mineral resources and avoiding environmental problems.
Table 4.2: Register Trends of Mining Areas in South Korea.
Minerals
gold/ silver/ copper/
lead/ zinc
Metallic
iron/ manganese
others
Sub Total
limestone
kaolin/ pyrophylite
feldspar/ silica stone
Nonpagodite
talc
Metallic
mica
others
Sube Total
Energy
coal
Total
1990
1995
2000
2004
2005
2006
2,581
1,473
691
567
592
561
194
168
2,943
1,879
2,398
1,883
194
166
182
1093
7,795
1,298
129
120
1,722
1,979
2,450
1,973
155
120
202
713
7,592
476
55
94
840
1,464
1,302
922
110
166
184
485
4,565
178
56
87
710
1,451
1,416
787
151
72
185
456
4,518
127
60
70
722
1,369
1,384
854
129
63
187
453
4,444
99
57
73
691
1,445
1,384
878
127
65
177
418
4,494
99
12,036
9,790
5,583
5,355
5,265
5,284
Source: Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MIKE), 2008.
4.2.3. Operation Situation of Mines.
Korea has developed 2,006 mines since 1930 and 1,276 mines among
them had been abandoned as shown in the table 3. 730 mines were still
operating in 2007, of which 669 mines are non-metallic mines. 395 mines
out of these non-metallic mines are limestone and kaolinite ones.
533 mines out of the 730 are ones currently under operation (coal 9,
- 96 -
metal 24, and non-metal 500), and 197 mines are planning to start
operation on small scale mines operating irregularly according to mineral
economic situations. 415 mines out of the 2006 ones are located in
Kwangwon, 349 in Kyeongbuk, 308 in Chungnam, 284 in Chungbuk, and 191
in Keongnam province respectively (MIRECO 2007:4-5).
However, the abandoned mines have impacted lots of residents in the
mining regions as a result of various environmental impacts such as acid
mine
drainage,
collapse
etc.
soil
contamination,
Additionally,
the
health
1,276
damage
abandoned
and
mines
sudden
are
ground
just
the
confirmed ones which the Korean government has gotten hold of based on
the register records in accordance with the Mining Act. But there remains a
lot of unconfirmed closed mines imprudently developed during the colonial
period of Japan and left without aftermath management.
Table 4.3: The Present Mining Situation in South Korea.
Category
Coal Mines
Metallic
Non-metallic
Mines
52
Mines
669
Total
Operating Mines
9
730
Abandoned Mines
340
936
0
1,276
Total
349
988
669
2,006
Source: MIRECO, 2007 International Symposium Report on Mine
Reclamation, 2007.
4.3. Energy Minerals.
4.3.1. Demand and Supply
4.3.1.1. Energy Consumption
The primary energy consumption of South Korea rapidly grew from
34,214 thousand TOE in 1977 to 236,454 thousand TOE in 2007, with the
annual rate of more than 10% on average during the last three decades, due
to expanding the industrial sectors, improving the living standards and
sharply increasing numbers of vehicles (KEEI 2008:12-13).
The per capita energy consumption also increased from 0.94 TOE in
1977 to 4.86 TOE in 2007. The energy consuming growth will surely be
continued due to social and economic development, even though the
- 97 -
population is expected to grow at a rate of less than 1% per annum and to
be frozen after 2020.
Table 4.4: Primary Energy Consumption Trends of South Korea.
Unit: 1,000 TOE/ TOE.
Year
1977
Consumption
1987
1992
1997
2002
2006
2007
34,214 67,878 116,010 180,638 208,636 233,372 236,454
Per Capita Energy
0.94
1.63
2.65
3.93
4.38
4.83
4.86
Source: Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI), Yearbook of Energy
Statistics, 2008.
4.3.1.1.1. Consumption Policy Shift.
As a result of industrialization concentrating on the energy intensive
industries such as petrochemicals, cement and steel industries in the first
stage of her economic policy, the increasing rate of energy consumption had
outpaced the economic growth rate. The energy/GDP ratio had risen from
0.314 in 1989 to 0.385 in 1999.
So, Korea had to change the industrial policy to promote less energy
intensive industries such as semi-conductors, machinery, electronics and
equipment industries owing to the volatile oil price, insecurity of oil supply,
concern about the 10th largest emission of CO2 in 2004. Due to the
structural
shift
of
the
manufacturing
industry
together
with
energy
conservation efforts, the energy/GDP ratio has steadily decreased at the
peak of 0.385 in 1999 to 0.335 in 2007 (MIKE 2008: 8-9; Yun 2007:3-4).
4.3.1.1.2. Sectoral Energy Consumption.
The sectoral energy consumption in Korea is characterized by a rapid
increase in the industry and transportation sectors, and relatively slow
growth
in
the
residual,
commercial
and
public
sectors.
The
energy
consumption in the industrial sector has increased up to 104,327 thousand
TOE in 2007, increasing 6.1% compared with 97,235 thousand TOE.
The most rapidly increasing sector during the last three decades was the
transportation sector. A sharp increase took place from 571 thousand
vehicles in 1981 to 16,428 thousand in 2007. The consumption came to
36,938 thousand TOE in 2007, increasing 1.1% from 36,527,000 TOE in
- 98 -
2006.
The energy consumption in the residual and commercial sectors grew
moderately compared with other sectors, this resulted in shrinking sectoral
shares of the final energy consumption. The characteristic consuming trends
was
fuel
substitution
from
low-quality
energy
to
high-quality.
The
consumption in 2007 reached 36,212 thousand TOE, increasing 0.6 percent
compared with 35,986 thousand TOE in 2006 (KEEI 2008:28-29).
The sectoral shares of energy consumption consisted in 2007 as follows:
industrial sector 57.5% of the total energy consumption, transportation
20.4%, residual and commercial sectors 19.8%, and pubic and others 2.7%.
4.3.1.1.2. Energy Consumption Structure.
The
increasing
requirements
of
higher
quality
energy
has
made
petroleum, gas and electricity almost replace firewood and anthracite coal
for heating and cooking. In particular, the demand for anthracite coal has
sharply decreased in reverse proportion to the increasing income level. The
structure of energy consumption in 2007 was composed of petroleum 44.6%,
coal 25.2%, LNG 14.7%, nuclear power 13.0%, hydro-power 0.5% and
renewable and others 2.0% (KEEI 2008:26-27).
4.3.1.2. Energy Supply.
Korea
has
a
poor
endowment
for
energy
resources
so
that
her
indigenous energy resources are limited to anthracite coal, firewood and
hydro-power. The total primary energy supply reached 236,454 thousand
TOE in 2007 as shown in the table 5. But the domestic production was only
38,338 thousand TOE, accounting for 14.5% for the total energy supply,
while the imports recorded 246,773 thousand TOE, accounting for 85.5% for
the total supply.
In order to diversify energy sources and to substitute the increasing oil
consumption, Korea set up a nuclear power plant for the first time in 1978
at Gori, Keongnam province, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) was introduced
in 1986. LNG imports had sharply increased from 2,184 thousand TOE in
1987 to 33,239 thousand TOE in 2007, accounting for 14.7% of the total
supply (KEEI 2008:18-19).
The nuclear power generation enlarged from 18 thousand TOE in 1997
- 99 -
to 30,731 thousand TOE in 2007, producing 80.2% of the total domestic
production.
The
domestic
energy
production
structure
in
2007
was
composed of nuclear 80.2% of the total production, anthracite 3.5% hydro
2.8% and renewals and others 13.5% in 2007.
Table 4.5: Primary Energy Supply Trends of South Korea.
Unit: 1,000 TOE.
Year
Anthracite
Hydro
Production Nuclear
Other
Sub-total
Petroleum
Coal
Import
LNG
Sub-total
Total
1977
1987
9,073
348
18
3,117
12,556
21,745
1,417
n/a
23,162
11,166
1,336
9,827
1,319
23,649
36,508
13,865
2,184
52,557
1992
1997
2002
2006
2007
5,387
2,030
1,493
1,271
1,342
1,216
1,351
1,327
1,305
1,084
14,133 19,272 29,776 37,187 30,731
723
1,344
2,925
4,358
4,828
21,459 23,997 35,521 44,582 38,338
90,732 151,040 147,133 156,060 159,298
19,816 32,850 44,990 49,854 54,237
4,4,53 15,118 22,711 32,788 33,239
115,001 199,007 214,833 238,702 246,773
34,214 67,878 116,010 180,638 208,636 233,372 236,454
Source: KEEI, Yearbook of Energy Statistics, 2008.
4.3.1.3. Energy Imports.
Energy imports had dramatically increased from 23,162 thousand TOE in
1977 to 246,773 thousand TOE in 2007. The import value had remarkably
enlarged from 7,765 million US$ in 1981 to 94,978 million US$ in 2007,
accounting for 26.6% of the total imports of 356,846 million US$. So,
energy imports has become a huge burden for Korea's international balance
of payments. The overseas dependence rate of energy had also increased
from 65.8% in 1977 to 96.6% in 2007 (KEEI 2008:20-21).
4.3.2. Major Energy Minerals.
4.3.2.1. Petroleum.
4.3.2.1.1. Demand.
Korea's petroleum consumption showed a dramatic growth during the last
three decades, thanks to brisk economic activities more than 10% annually.
The
petroleum
consumption
reached
794,946
- 100 -
thousand
barrels
(2,178
thousand barrels per day (b/d) in 2007, accounting for 44.6% of the total
energy consumption, increasing 10.4% compared with 765,520 thousand
barrels (2,097 thousand b/d) in 2006, and placing South Korea in the rank
of the 6th largest oil consumer in the world (KEEI 2008:72-73).
4.3.2.1.2. Imports.
Korea imports her whole requirement of crude oil from abroad to meet
her domestic demands. She imported the crude oil of 872,541 thousand
barrels (2,390.1 thousand b/d) in 2007, emerging as the 4th largest crude
oil importer in the world, and decreasing 1.7% compared with 888,794
thousand barrels in 2006 (KEEI 2008:78-79).
The import value of crude oil reached 60,324 million dollars, accounting
for 64.4% of the total energy imports in 2007. Even though the crude
import sources were remarkably diversified to 26 countries, the dependency
on the Middle East region was still high at over 70% of the total imports.
4.3.2.1.3. Refining Facilities.
The first oil refinery plant with a capacity of 35 thousand b/d was built
in 1963. The crude distillation capacity had remarkably grown up to 2,812
thousand b/d in 2007 in a comparatively short span of time, ranking the 6th
in the world (KEEI 2008:90-91).
4.3.2.1.4. Oil Stockpile.
According to the recommendation of International Energy Agency (IEA) in
the light of meeting her huge demand, she has maintained an oil stockpile
of
a
90-day
consumption,
preparing
for
a
national
state
of
energy
emergency, and comparing with advanced countries such as Japan with a
stockpile of 75 days and USA with 35 days (Kim 2007:1-2).
4.3.2.2. Coal.
The coal demand was up to 94,128 thousand tons increasing 10.7%
toward 87,827 thousand tons in 2006, which will be increased in the future
owing to the increasing requirement of bituminous coal for industrial
- 101 -
sectors. The coal imports reached 88,898 thousand tons in 2007, increasing
11.0% compared with 80,067 thousand tons in 2006. The import value
amounted to 6,445 million US$, accounting for 6.8% of the total energy
imports in 2007 (KEEI 2008:108-109).
4.3.2.2.1. Anthracite Coal.
Anthracite coal is a major indigenous energy source mainly consumed in
the residential and commercial sectors, which contributed so much to
overcome the two oil crises that occurred in 1973 and 1978. The anthracite
reserve reached 331.1 million tons in 2006, but the bituminous reserve was
not yet identified in South Korea (KORES 2007:26-29).
The production had peaked at 24,295 thousand tons in 1988, and then
decreased to 2,886 thousand tons in 2007 due to increasing production
costs with the deepening and narrowing of the coal mines. The imports
increased to 5,444 thousand tons in 2007 (448 million US$) from 5,113 tons
in 2006 (407 US$).
The consumption also dropped to 4,254 thousand tons from 26,843
thousand tons in 1987 due to the favoring of higher quality energy as a
result of the increase in income level and concern about the environmental
impact. So, the Korean government restructured the anthracite mining
industry, while she promoted the consumption of anthracite coal through
establishing two anthracite power plants. However, the demand will not be
increased in the future.
4.3.2.2.2. Bituminous Coal.
South Korea has totally imported bituminous coal for power generation,
cement plant, and steel industry. She imported 83,454 thousand tons (5,997
million US$) in 2007 from Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia and South
Africa, an increase of 11.3% compared with 74,954 thousand tons (4,911
million US$) in 2006.
4.3.2.3. Natural Gas (LNG).
In order to reduce the oil dependence rate of her economy, Korea has
tried to promote a diversity of energy sources. She signed a long-term
- 102 -
contract with Indonesia to import 2 million tons of liquefied natural gas
(LNG) annually for 20 years in 1983. Since then, the LNG consumption has
exploded to 34,663 thousand TOE in 2007, with a share of 14.7% of the
total energy consumption (KEEI 2008:94-103).
The consumption will continually be increased for town gas and power
generation in the future, with the completing of the supply infrastructure
such as receiving terminals and nationwide pipeline networks, and the
encouragement of its consumption to mitigate the environmental concern
from CO2 emission.
4.3.2.4. Uranium.
Even though the grade is low (the average grade of U3O8 0.039%), Korea
identified a uranium reserve of 115.6 thousand tons in Chungcheong
province. It is not economical yet to do commercial production with the
current mining technology. So, Korea has been importing all the uranium
required to operate 20 nuclear power plants at the moment (KORES
2003:49-50).
4.3.3. Electricity.
The supply and demand for electricity has ever-increased along with the
rapid economic growth and improvement of living standards. The electricity
consumption rapidly grew to 368,605 GWh in 2007 from 35,424 GWh in
1981. The major consuming entity was the industrial sector, using 50.5%
(186,252 GWh) of the total consumption in 2007.
The capacity of electric power generation showed a remarkable growth
from 9,835 milliwatts (MW) in 1981 to 67,196 MW in 2007, while electric
generation increased from 40,207 GWh in 1981 to 403,208 GWh in 2007.
The generation structure of electricity utilities is composed of hydro (5,056
GWh), steamed thermal (177,511 GWh), internal combustion (77,706 GWh),
and nuclear power (142,934 GWh) in 2007 (KEEI 2008:128-133).
4.4. Metallic and Non-metallic Minerals.
4.4.1. Demand.
- 103 -
The total demand for metallic and non-metallic minerals were 14,678.9
billion Won (₩) in 2007, an increase of 10.3% compared with 13,303.1
billion Won in 2006 as shown in table 6. The metallic mineral requirements
has rapidly increased due to the expansion of copper, lead and zinc refinery
plants,
steel
manufacturing,
vehicle
and
the
electronic
industry.
The
non-metallic mineral demand has steadily increased due to the expansion of
steel, cement, and paper and steel manufacturing (KIGAM 2008:6-7).
Table 4.6: Demand Trends of Mineral Resources in South Korea.
unit: billion Won(₩)
Year
Total Demand
Domestic
Consumption
Exports
Stocks
1995
1998
5,187
13,832
3,062
2000
2002
2004
2005
2006
2007
7,130 8,191 11,621
9,678 13,303 14,679
4,037
4,372 6,230
7,553
8,755 11,542 12,473
1,942
9,617
1,877 1,382
3.862
655
1,309
182
179
205
267
452
882
579
1,340
867
Source: Korea Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), The
Demand and Supply Situations of Mineral Resources in Korea, 2008.
4.4.2. Production.
The domestic production was 2,759 billion Won in 2007, an increase of
13.4% from 2,434 billion Won in 2006 as shown in table 7. The domestic
production of metallic minerals such as gold, silver, zinc, iron and titanium
has decreased due to scanty reserves, deepening of mines and closure of
existing mines, while imports has sharply increased to meet the rapidly
increasing requirements (KIGAM 2008: 11-12).
The domestic production of non-metallic minerals has increased with
abundant reserves of limestone, kaolin, pyrophyllite, feldspar and silica,
while the imports of premium refined product has also increased along with
high quality needs.
The minerals with a self-supply rate of more than 50% of the domestic
demands are 11 kinds such as limestone, pyrophyllite, silica stone, kaolin,
feldspar and titanium, while the rest of the minerals are imported from
foreign countries such as Australia, Chile, Peru, South Africa, Brazil and
Indonesia etc. The domestic production of metallic and non-metallic minerals
accounted for 0.31% of GDP and 0.4% of total export earnings respectively
in 2007.
- 104 -
Table 4.7: Supply Trends of Mineral Resources in South Korea.
unit: billion Won(₩)
year
1995
Total Supply
Domestic
Production
Imports
2000
2002
5,185 10,650
7,131
8,191 11,239
9,431 12,956 15,049
1,059
1,204
1,203
1,557
1,937
2,069
3,970
9,224
5,756
5,633
9,097
7,094 10,070 11,423
156
222
172
1,001
205
Transfer
1998
2004
2005
268
2006
2007
2,434
2,759
452
867
Source: KIGAM, 2008./ Note: transfer is amounts transferred from
previous year.
4.4.3. Reserves.
Korea has relatively rich reserves of non-metallic resources such as
limestone, pyrophyllite, feldspar, kaolin and silica as shown in the table 8,
while the reserves of metallic resources are very poor and most of the
mines are in poor condition (KORES 2007:13-19).
The average self-supply rate of all the minerals was 10.39% in 2007, of
which
metallic
was
1.06%
and
the
non-metallic
72,78%.
Completely
self-supply minerals are silica, pyrophyllite, feldspar, alunite, serpentine,
green
gemstone,
partly
self-supply
ones
are
gold,
silver,
zinc,
iron,
limestone, talc etc. Completely imported minerals are copper, phosphate,
magnesite, sulphur and so on.
Table 4.8: Major Metallic Reserves in South Korea. unit: 1,000 tons.
Metallic
Gold Silver
Reserve
4.7 6,452
Copper Lead/ Zinc
1,642
Non-Metallic Talc Kaolin Fedspar
Reserve
6,102 75,904
67,110
14,589
Iron
23,725
Tungsten
12,958
Rare Earth
20,181
Limestone Graphite Pyrophyllite Silica Stone
7,533,765
6,102
54,489
939,177
Source: KORES, 2007.
4.4.4. Imports and Exports.
The imports of metallic and non-metallic minerals amounted to 12,292.8
million US$ in 2007, accounting for 3.4% of the total imports and increasing
with 16.6% compared with 10,539.2 US$ in 2006 due to an increase in the
- 105 -
mineral
prices,
while
the
exports
amounted
to
1441.6
million
US$,
accounting for 0.4% of the total exports and increasing with 5.2% compared
with 1,370.1 million US$ in 2006 as shown in the table 9.
The minerals of which more than 1 million US$ in value that were
imported in 2007 are gold, silver, platinum, molybdenum, lead, and sulphur,
titanium, kaolin, diamond and pyrophyllite etc., while the minerals of which
more
than
1
million
US$
were
exported
are
gold,
silver,
platinum,
molybdenum, lead, sulphur, magnesite, kaolin, diamond and pyrophyllite etc.
The major countries to which these minerals were exported are England,
Holland, Germany, Japan and the USA.
Table 4.9: Import and Export Trends of Mineral Resources in Korea.
Unit: million US$
Year
1985
41.0
Exports
(0.14)
783.2
Imports
(2.52)
1990
239.0
(0.37)
1,752.9
(2.51)
1995
2.516.7
(2.01)
4,958.0
(3.67)
2000
1,660.3
(0.96)
7,247.3
(4.52)
2005
641.1
(0.23)
9,282.8
(4.70)
2006
1,370.1
(0.42)
10,539.2
(5.10)
2007
1441.6
(0.40)
12,292.8
(5.2)
Source: KIGAM, 2008./ Note: The numbers in the parenthesis
is the export and import ratio to their total amounts.
4.4.5. Major Metallic Minerals.
4.4.5.1. Ferrous Metallic Minerals.
A great tungsten mine at Sangdong, Kangwon province, which old
Koreans were proud of as a major exporting locomotive in the 1960s and
1970s, was closed in 1987 due to loss of commercial profit as a result of
the deeping of the mine and a drop in the international price as a result of
a great supply of Chinese low-priced tungsten from the beginning of 1980s.
Presently, several mines of iron and titanium are maintaining the domestic
production of ferrous metallic minerals in South Korea.
4.4.5.1.1. Iron.
4.4.5.1.1.1. Production.
South Korea produced 290.8 thousand tons in 2007, an increase of 27.9%
- 106 -
compared with 227.4 thousand tons in 2006, which were supplied by cement
plants such as Asia Co. and Dongyang Co. and iron foundries such as
Pohang Steel Corporation (POSCO) and Kwangyang Steel Corporation.
However, the domestic production was only 0.6% of the total requirement
of 47,777.0 thousand tons in 2007. So, Korea imported 46,176.3 thousand
tons from Australia, Brazil, South Africa and India, an increase of 10.5%
compared with 43,895.4 million tons
in 2006. The iron ore reserve
amounted to 23,725 thousand tons with the average grade of Fe 38.3% in
2006, mainly located in Keongki, Kwanwon and Chungbuk provinces (KIGAM
2008:21).
4.4.5.1.1.2. Steelmaking Capacity.
The steel industry has played a leading role in the rapid economic
growth in Korea. The steel-making capacity has dramatically increased up
to 48,883 thousand tons in 2007 from 150 thousand tons in 1962. It has
grown by 12% annually and expanded 326 times more since 1962. The
expansion trend of the steelmaking capacity will be continued to meet the
increasing
domestic
requirements.
The
steel
production
has
almost
completely been to meet the domestic demand and only 9.9 thousand tons
were exported to China and Japan.
4.4.5.1.2. Titanium.
The demand of titanium reached 225.5 thousand tons in 2007, decreasing
19.5% compared with 280.2 thousand tons in 2006 due to a slump in the
vehicle and aircraft industry. However, the domestic production increased
with 7.8% from 179.9 thousand tons in 2006 to 193.9 thousand tons in
2007. Imports decreased from 188.3 thousands tons in 2006 to 116.4
thousand tons in 2007, while exports increased to 98.8 thousands tons in
2007 from 78.9 thousand tons in 2006. The titanium ore reserve amounted
to 857.6 thousand tons with the average grade of TiO2 19.2% in 2006,
located in the iron mines of Keongki and Kwangwon provinces (KORES
2007:164-165).
4.4.5.2. Major Non-ferrous Metallic Minerals.
- 107 -
4.4.5.2.1. Smelting and Refinery Capacity.
Kumho mine used to be the only zinc one in Korea and produced 10,000
to 20,000 tons of zinc concentrate ores every year, but it was closed in
2001. So, there is not a base metal mine in South Korea at the moment, but
there are two big smelters operating with the concentrate ores imported
from Indonesia, Chile, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Guinea etc.
One is the copper smelter with a smelting capacity of 420,000 tons and
refinery capacity of 510,000 tons per year. The smelting and refinery plants
are located at Onsan and Janghang and operated by LC-Nikko Co. The
other is the zinc smelter with capacity of 400,000 tons for zinc and 200,000
tons for lead per year, managed by Korea Zinc Co. Adding to the smelters,
Young-Poong Co. has also operated the zinc smelter at Sukpo with the
capacity of 110,000 tons per year (KORES 2003:52-56).
4.4.5.2.2. Demand.
Korea was the fifth largest lead consumer following China, USA, Japan
and Germany and the fourth largest zinc consumer following USA, China and
Germany in 2007. She consumed lead of 179.5 thousand tons and zinc of
1,388.1 thousand tons. The increasing requirements were almost met with
imported lead of 256.4 thousand tons and zinc of 1,333.5 thousand tons in
2007. The domestic production of lead and zinc were no more than 24 tons
and 4,067 tons respectively in 2007. So, the imports of lead and zinc will
be continually increased in the future to meet the increasing demand. The
lead and zinc ore reserves with average grade of Pb 2.2% and Zn 3.2%
amounted to 14,588.9 tons in 2006 (KIGAM 2008:15-16).
4.4.6. Non-metallic Minerals.
4.4.6.1. Limestone.
4.4.6.1.1. Reserve.
Limestone is one of the abundant minerals in Korea with a reserve of
7,533,765 thousand tons in 2006. It has played a leading role in promoting
the building industry and social infrastructure in South Korea, because it is
- 108 -
a
major
material
for
making
cement
and
iron-manufacturing
solvents
(KORES 2007:266-269).
4.4.6.1.2.
South Korea produced 86,121.3 thousand tons in 2007, an increase of 8.5
% compared with 79,404.1 thousand tons in 2006, and consumed 87,198.4
thousand tons with an increase of 7.5% in comparison to 81,132.8 thousand
tons in 2006. She exported 62.7 thousand tons in 2007 with an increase of
55.6% in comparison to 40.3 thousand tons and imported 1,337.0 thousand
tons in 2007, a decrease of 9.8% compared with 1,482.1 thousand tons in
2006 (KIGAM 2008:5-6).
Table 4.10: Major Mineral Situation in South Korea, 2007.
Minerals
Gold (kg)
Silver (kg)
Copper (t)
Lead (t)
Zinc (t)
Iron (t)
Chrome (t)
Titanium (t)
Aluminium (t)
Platinum (kg)
Limestone (t)
Talc (t)
Pyrophyllite (t)
Feldspar (t)
Kaolin (t)
Silica Stone(t)
Sulphur (t)
Mica (t)
Zeolite (t)
Demand
44.527
1,093,803
1,428,547
179,454
1,388,113
47,777,024
2,536
255,463
276,580
26,093
87,198,375
122,536
653,290
463,630
2,963,571
3,550,748
510,28
127,716
161,397
Production
Import
47,078 (3,098)
60,610
1,393,935 (57,369) 1,207,046
6
1,402,886
24
256,367
4,067
1,333,481
290,802
46,176,285
n/a
2,596
193,953
116,374
n/a
276,622
n/a
28,253
86,121,391
1,336,971
9,557
119,124
798,654
4,889
398,513
6,929
2,630,358
391,776
3,510,699
48,849
670,000
118,525
42,385
78,119
157,408
1,541
Export
36,574
1,504,940
n/a
134,041
16,923
9,930
n/a
98,756
42
297,856
62,696
10,176
101,193
23,912
57,887
3,850
277,905
244
109
Source: KIGAM./ Note: The numbers in the parenthesis of gold and
silver column is the amount produced at the domestic mines.
4.4.6.2. Kaolin.
Kaolin is used in various fields such as ceramics, chemical industry and
radioactive waste water treatment etc. The demand of kaolin was up to
2,963.6 thousand tons in 2007, an increase of 10.2% compared with 2,690.5
- 109 -
thousand tons in 2006 due to a boom of ceramics, fire-resisting industry
and treatment of nuclear waste water (KIGAM 2008:7-8).
The domestic production also increased with 9.6% from 2,399.5 thousand
tons in 2006 to 2,630.4 thousand tons in 2007 to meet the increasing
requirements. Imports increased from 363.7 thousands tons in 2006 to 391.8
thousand tons in 2007, while exports decreased to 57.9 thousands tons in
2007 from 71.8 thousand tons in 2006. The kaolin ore reserve is relatively
abundant with 75,904.5 thousand tons in South Korea in 2006.
4.5. Nuclear Power Plants.
South Korea has continually built nuclear power plants to meet her
increasing energy demand since she started the operation of the first
nuclear plant in 1978. She is planning to set up 10 more plants by 2030 in
a small country of 99,117 km .
However, except for a few Asian countries such as Japan, China and
India, most of the western countries have suspended and/or decreased the
number of nuclear plants to prevent serious environmental impacts until
new technology is developed for nuclear waste treatment and operation
safety as mentioned in 3.3.2.
4.5.1. Facilities.
Due to her efforts for diversity of energy sources to alleviate the
insecurity of oil supply, South Korea started the operation of the first
nuclear power reactor with Kori Unit #1 in 1978. She is now operating 20
reactors and 5 reactors are under construction as shown in the table 11,
producing 80.1% of the total domestic energy production in 2007.
Additionally,
she
announced
the
first
national
energy
basic
plan
(2008-2030) in August 2008 to build 10 more plants until 2030. And then,
nuclear electric power generation will be expanded from 36% of the total
generation in 2008 to 59% in 2030 (Kim 2008:3-4).
4.5.2. Uranium Demand.
South Korea consumes uranium at 4,000 tons annually to operate 20
nuclear plants at present. But she doesn't produce it at all and has a lack
- 110 -
of conversion and enrichment facilities. So, she has imported all the nuclear
fuels in their semi-processed form of UO2 on long-term contracts with
USA, England, Canada, Australia, France and South Africa. Additionally, she
signed an agreement with Uzbekistan for the long-term supply of uranium
on September 25, 2006 (KHNP 2007:27-31).
Table 4.11: Nuclear Power Plant Situation in South Korea.
Situation
Name
Unit No. Capacity(MW) Operation Date Reactor Type
#1
587
Apr. 29, 1978
PWR
#2
650
Jul. 25, 1983
PWR
Kori
#3
950
Sep. 30, 1985
PWR
#4
959
Apr. 29, 1986
PWR
#1
679
Apr. 22, 1983
PHWR
#2
700
Jul. 01, 1997
PHWR
Wolsong
#3
700
Jul. 01, 1998
PHWR
#4
700
Oct. 01, 1999
PHWR
#1
950
Aug. 25, 1986
PWR
#2
950
Jun. 10, 1987
PWR
Operation
#3
1,000
Mar. 31, 1995
PWR
Yonggwang
#4
1,000
Jan. 01, 1996
PWR
#5
1,000
May 21, 2002
PWR
#6
1,000
Dec. 24, 2002
PWR
#1
950
Sep. 10, 1998
PWR
#2
950
Sep. 30, 1989
PWR
#3
1,000
Aug. 11, 1998
PWR
Ulchin
#4
1,000
Dec. 31, 1999
PWR
#5
1,000
Jul. 29, 2004
PWR
#6
1,000
Apr. 22, 2005
PWR
Shin#1
1,000
2011
PWR
#2
1,000
2012
PWR
Wolsong
#1
1,000
2010
PWR
Construction
#2
1,000
2011
PWR
Shin-Kori
#3
1,400
2013
PWR
#4
1,400
2014
PWR
Source: KHNP, 2007/ Note: PWR and PHWR are Pressurized Water
Reactor and Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor respectively.
4.5.3. Nuclear Waste Treatment.
Nuclear waste from nuclear plants have been stored in temporary storage
facilities located at each of its nuclear plant sites in Korea. But such a
interim waste treatment has put pressure on her to seek permanent disposal
sites and construct permanent disposal facilities. Because she had faced
strong opposition in the course of deciding which sites. Much more serious
- 111 -
opposition is expected in the process of seeking the disposal sites for high
level waste (HLW). Furthermore, that is an urgent matter, because Kori Unit
#1 with an age of more than 30 years should be closed down in the near
future.
The Korean government designated the Gyeonju region to be the final
candidate to build disposal facilities for low to medium level radioactive
waste as the result of voting local residents in December 2005 after a long
struggle
with
serious
opposition
to
the
site
decision.
The
facilities
constructed at Bonggilri in Gyeongju city will accommodate a total of
800,000 drums (KHNP 2007:28-29).
The first facility consists of cylinder-shaped vertical caves with a depth
of 80 meters to dispose of 100,000 drums of waste, to be completed at the
end of 2009. A temporary storage facility as well as inspection and
processing facility will be set up at the ground level. The disposal facility
for the remaining 700,000 drums will be designed from reflecting the
experiences of the first construction stage and changes in composition and
processing technologies of nuclear waste.
4.6. Overseas Energy and Mineral Development Policy.
The uncertainty in the international resource market has increased in
recent years owing to a rapid rise in energy and mineral demand in
developing countries, in particular China and India. In addition, some oil and
mineral-producing countries are showing signs of resource nationalism by
taking advantage of their energy and mineral resources to serve their
political and diplomatic purposes or by adopting policies that support and
foster their national resource companies.
Consequently, energy and mineral-importing countries have been eager to
improve their energy and mineral security. The United States and Western
Europe have gained firm footholds in resource-owning countries through
their long history of resource development. Though China, Japan and India
initiated overseas resource development much later than the United States
and
major
aggressively
European
and
countries,
supported
they
their
have
increased
companies
by
their
offering
investment
overseas
developmental assistance (ODA) or by exploiting their diplomatic influence.
Most of the companies of advanced countries have avoided to develop
domestic energy and minerals due to strict environmental regulations and
- 112 -
pursued to develop overseas resources by taking advantage of the poor
environmental legal systems in developing countries, without taking into
account their responsibility to be stewards of the earth.
4.6.1. Developing Trends.
In
Korea,
the
overseas
resource
development
refers
to
corporate
activities in which Korean companies are partly or wholly involved in the
processes
of
resource
development
such
as
exploration,
development,
production, and distribution in foreign countries. Since Korea imports nearly
all of its energy and minerals, overseas resource development is regarded
as one of the effective measures for promoting resource supply security.
Korea's first venture into overseas resource development was in 1977
when she invested in the San Antonio Uranium Mine in Paraguay. She
invested in an oil field in the Madura region of Indonesia in 1981, and then
expanded
continually
to
invest
and
participate
in
overseas
resource
development projects.
However,
due
to
the
financial
crisis
of
1997
that
impaired
her
two-decade-long efforts, her investment in overseas resource development
projects did not pick up until 2005. And her overseas resource development
policy underwent a sort of paradigm shift in terms of investment scale,
regional diversification, and project numbers.
4.6.2. Performing Result.
Korean companies invested 8.9 billion dollars in oil and gas development
and 2.5 billion dollars in developing other mineral resources to carry out
286 ongoing resource development projects in 53 countries as of the end of
2007 (Lee 2009:37-43).
4.6.3. New Development Policy.
The Korean government set energy and mineral security as one of the
high priorities of the national policy in 2008, and planned to achieve a goal
- 113 -
for the independent resource development rate   of 32% in 2012 from
18.24% in 2007 and then 40% by 2030 for strategic resources such as oil,
natural gas, uranium, copper, iron, lead and zinc.
In order to improve her energy and mineral security by means of
overseas resource development, she made a decision to set up the resource
development fund of about 1 billion US$ to support the overseas projects in
May 2009. And she has promoted overseas resource development as an
item on the national agenda and conducted resource cooperation diplomacy
with various countries.
4.7. Environmental Impact from Mining Activities in Korea.
Human
civilization
has
been
developed
with
mineral
and
energy
resources. Mineral and energy resources such as metal, petroleum and coal
are the most important materials for the industrial development of a
country. It is true that the stable and continuous supply of resources is the
major factor for the economic growth of a country. However, environmental
damages such as acid mine drainage (AMD), mine tailing sweeping, ground
subsidence, and forest ruin are inevitable in developing a mine.
These mining hazards are considered as causes of natural damages such
as ground collapse, contaminated water outflow, heavy metal contamination
for soil, dust scattering, noise and vibration. But these damages are caused
by the process of mine development such as exploration, excavation,
grinding,
transportation
and
concentration.
The
mining
hazards
are
characterized as contamination, continuation, accumulation and diffusion.
They may happen long after the mine development has finished, and result
in environmental problems, safety concerns and civil appeals.
Until the early 2000s, only simple construction methods such as stone
embankments and retaining walls were used as measures to prevent mine
--------------2) The "independent resource development rate" is a concept used in Korea
and Japan to indicate the proportion of resources which a country developed
and produced for itself in comparison to the total imports. Independently
developed resources from a project are calculated by multiplying the output
from the project by the share of the country in the project.
- 114 -
hazards in South Korea. At the moment South Korea is confronted by some
serious problems. More comprehensive technologies related to geology,
mining
chemical,
civil,
mechanical
and
environment
engineering
are
necessary to reclaim mine sites.
Therefore,
the
Korean
government
launched
the
Mine
Reclamation
Corporation (MIRECO) in 2005 in accordance with the Mining Damage
Prevention
and
Mine
Reclamation
Act
of
2005,
and
set
up
a
mine
reclamation plan in June 2006 to carry out long-term and systematic
projects. However, most of the Korean churches have not been concerned
about an ecological mission regarding mining activities in Korea, even
though
it
involves
environmental
problems
that
can't
be
solved
by
government and specialized agencies alone.
4.7.1. The Current Situation of Mine Hazards.
Once a mine reaches the end of its operational lifetime and dumping
activities cease, ground-water is contaminated by acid water drainage
that
eventually flows into rivers and dams. Adjacent soils are polluted with
heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, which come out of abandoned mine
sites.
According to MIRECO, 936 sites of 388 mines out of 515 abandoned
non-coal mines and 399 sites of 220 mines out of 340 abandoned coal
mines are producing various types of mine hazards and contaminations as
shown in table 12. However, the exact number of the abandoned mines in
Korea has not established yet. Many of the closed mines recklessly
developed under Japanese colonial rule are still spread out all over the
country, and has impacted serious environmental damages.
Table 4.12: The Current Mine Hazard Sites from Abandoned Mines.
category
AMD
abandoned
19
mines (936)
abandoned coal
36
mines (340)
total
55
waste
mine
waste
abandoned outflow
tailings
rock
subsidence facilities mine head water
total
90
30
9
20
348
-
516
138
-
114
104
-
7
399
228
30
123
124
348
7
915
Source: MIRECO, 2007 International Symposium Reports on Mine
Reclamation held in Korea on September 13-14, 2007.
- 115 -
According to the report on the environmental impacts from mining
activities, 44% (418 sites) of 936 abandoned mine sites have seriously
contaminated the adjacent soil so that vegetables, rices and corns produced
in the areas in 2005 contained lead and cadmium at a much higher level
than the international standard approved by International Food Regulatory
Commission (Yang 2006:7; Kim  2006:6).
4.7.2. Acid Mine Drainage.
Once a mine reaches the end of its operational lifetime, ground-water is
contaminated by acid water drainage that eventually flows into rivers and
dams, and the adjacent soil is polluted with heavy metals which come out of
abandoned mine sites. Fish and aquatic plants cannot live in the water,
because mine water is acidic and includes a number of heavy metals such
as iron, lead, zinc, cadmium, manganese.
It is also difficult to use this water as an agricultural water source. Mine
water often contaminates farm lands because of the high content of heavy
metals. From a survey of the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy, 60,000
tons of mine water is coming out at 137 abandoned coal mines a day and
3,800 tons from 124 metal mines a day in South Korea (MIRECO 2007:7-8).
4.7.3. Mine Tailings.
Most of the metallic mining and smelting works were ceased in the
1980s and huge amounts of mine tailings were left behind without proper
environmental treatment. The unprotected mine tailing piles have been
dispersed down slopes by wind and water.
Sweeping of mine tailings in abandoned metallic mines could cause
ecosystem contamination and high concentrations of heavy metals in soil
that exceeds the current regulation for arable land. The case of Keumjung
mine is a serious example. The tailing deposit of the Keumjung mine was
swept by typhoon Lusa in 2002. As a result of tailing discharges, water and
soil were contaminated by heavy metals (MIRECO 2007:5-6).
Most cases of abandoned mine areas in South Korea are in remote
mountains. It is difficult to transport tailings out of the mine areas and
procure treatment sites.
- 116 -
4.7.4. Soil Contamination.
Soil contamination in mine areas can be caused by heavy metals in AMD
outflow and mine tailings. Heavy metals are accumulated in agricultural soil
and crops. Eventually, they may cause a potential health risk to the
residents in the vicinity of the mines.
In 2004, there was a report about a possibility of cadmium toxicities for
residents near abandoned metal mines in Kosung county in Kyungnam
province. As a result of this report, consumption of the crop produced from
this province was severely affected. Also in 2006, the Korean government
announced that heavy metals exceeded the standard regulation in these
crops from metallic mined areas (MIRECO 2007:9).
Korean newspapers disclosed in September 2006 that some of the
adjacent soil of the 936 abandoned mine sites are seriously contaminated so
that vegetables, rices and corn produced in those areas in 2005 contained
lead and cadmium above the international standard level approved by the
International Food Regulatory Commission. It has become a big social issue
in the country.
The Korean government surveyed heavy metals in those arable lands
near the 236 abandoned metal mines until 2008, and will survey other 310
abandoned metal mine areas during 2009. It is also ready to start soil
remediation projects to treat the affected arable lands.
4.7.5. Mine Subsidence.
There
was
a
sudden
collapse
of
a
graveyard
located
in
Incheon
Bupyeong in May 1993. The accident was occurred by the neglect of
management of the Bupyeong abandoned metallic mine. As a result, the 154
graves were ruined. This is a typical example of mine subsidence of
abandoned metal mines (MIRECO 2007:9-10).
Mine subsidence means that the ground collapses and cracks when the
upper part of an underground goaf breaks down with the lapse of time. That
is developed into the upper part of the goaf and linked to the ground
surface. Therefore, ground safety near an underground goaf is emerging as
an important issue. Several projects for the prevention and restoration of
ground subsidence were performed in the coal mined areas in South Korea.
Most of the projects were performed in the vicinity of national highways
- 117 -
and the Yeungdong railroad.
4.7.6. Pollution from Limestone and Coal Mines.
South Korea has abundant reserves of limestone, feldspar, pyrophyllite,
talc and anthracite coal, which are the main materials for various cements,
iron-manufactured solvents and briquette. However, limestone and coal
mines bring about serious air and walter pollution with dust coming out of
mining activities.
Most of the roofs at Donghae and Samchuk, the main mining areas for
limestone and coal are covered in grey with dust from the mines. The
residents complain that they cannot hang up their clothes outside after
washing them. They also complain about
health problems such as asthma
and chest troubles as a result of the environmental impact from limestone
mining and cement plants.
In 2007, Korean journalists exposed in 2007 that several heavy metals
are contained in cements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic, causing
cancer. The reason for this was that many companies made various cements
from industrial waste such as waste tyres and iron-smelting dregs etc. It
causes serious social concerns about health problems and the environmental
impact from cement and cement plants. Some medical doctors warned that if
a family moves into a new apartment built with this cement, skin deceases
could
break out as a result of this toxical cement (Yoon 2007:6-7; Jang
2007:5).
4.7.7. Pollution from Asbestos Mines.
Asbestos is a useful material for cement, tile, plastic, chemical tools etc.
produced mainly in Canada, South Africa and Russia. It, however, causes
various diseases of respiratory organs such as lung cancer and asthma.
In 2008, it was collectively discovered that the residents living in the
vicinity of asbestos mines at Hongsung, Boryung, Suhsan and Yesan in the
Chungnam province were suffering from chest diseases (Han 2009:12). They
have asked the government to do a comprehensive health check for all the
residents and prepare a detailed course of treatment in response to an
enactment of a special act concerning health damage as a result of the
mines.
- 118 -
4.7.8. Pollution from Oil Refining Plants.
The oil refining industry is facing a lot of environmental problems such
as air pollution, water and soil contamination. Other problems are oil
spillages seriously polluting the sea coasts in the course of transportation
and the shortage of refinery construction sites in the small land of South
Korea.
4.7.9. Pollution from Oil Leakage.
The worst-ever oil spill took place in the West Sea, located 90 km
southwest of Seoul on December 7, 2007, when a Hongkong-registered
giant tanker (Hebei Spirit) collided with a barge owned by Samsung Heavy
Industries Company. The oil leak caused about 11,000 tons (81,000 barrels)
of crude oil to gush into the waters and it has seriously damaged the
region's marine farms and beaches. The vessel was carrying crude oil to
the refinery factory of Hyundai Oilbank Company located at Daesan, which
is the fourth biggest refinery in South Korea (Jan 2008: 1).
The accident resulted in spilling more than twice the size of the spill of
5,035 tons of crude oil that occurred in 1995, when a tanker struck a reef
off the south coast (Yeosu) of Korea, located 455 km south of Seoul.
According to data on the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation,
this oil leakage is a third of the 37,000 tons spilled into the Prince William
Sound, Alaska by the Exxon Valdez in 1989 (Bang 2008:9).
According to the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, the accident
hit 350 oyster and abalone marine farms covering 3,571 hectares and 6
beaches covering 221 hectares in Taean Country and about 50 kilometers of
the western coastlines of Korea. The giant spill also dealt a blow to the
tourism business in the region which is popular for its beautiful beaches and
sunsets.
The government declared a state of disaster for Taean County and its
five surrounding counties and cities on December 8, 2007. It had also made
all-out efforts to stop the oil from spreading to a couple of western bays
which are rich in marine resources and farms. A lot of workers including
soldiers tried their best to remove as much of the oil as possible, along
with some vessels and helicopters.
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More than 50,000 citizens voluntarily participated in removing the oil
everyday for about 3 months since the accident occurred. It was confirmed
by the government that most of them were christians systematically sent by
all the Korean churches at their own cost.
4.7.10. Pollution from Copper and Zinc Smelting and Refinery Plants.
Korean citizens living in the vicinity of the copper, zinc and lead
smelting and refinery plants have for many years been complaining about
health impediments and economic troubles from the serious air and water
pollution. As a result, the Korean government does not allow the expansion
of zinc and copper refining facilities. Instead, it has met the increasing
demand by importing the ingots and semi-ingots (KORES 2003:53-54).
4.7.11. Some Case Studies of Mining Pollution.
4.7.11.1. Soil and Ground-water Contamination from the Residual Mine
Tailings at Shihung Mine Area.
The Shihung mine was restored in the early 1990s after abandonment of
20 years since 1973. Although the disposed mine tailings were removed and
the site was replaced by an incineration plant, still some residual mine
tailings
were
prone
to
impose
an
adverse
impact
on
the
soil
and
ground-water and needed investigation for potential contamination.
Mine tailing samples were collected from the old tailing disposal area and
the rice paddy. The pore-water from the mine tailing was extracted and
analysed to investigate chemical changes along the reaction path. Batch
leaching tests were also carried out in the laboratory to find any supporting
evidence found in the field analysis.
Evidence of elemental leaching was confirmed both by the investigation
of
the
mine
tailing
and
the
pore-water
chemistry.
The
element
concentrations of Cu, Cd, Pb, and Zn in the pore-water exceeded the
standard for drinking water in Korea and the U.S.A. In batch leaching tests,
it was confirmed that heavy metals were continuously released.
Combining the information with pore-water variation with depths and the
geochemical modeling results, most of the elements are controlled by
dissolution and/or precipitation processes, with some solubility controlling
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solid phases (Cu, Pb, Fe, and Zn).
The batch leaching test conducted at a fixed pH4 showed much higher
releases at heavy metals up to 400 times (Zn) compared with the legitimate
standard
level.
ground-water
This
pollution
area
by
is
becoming
the
shift
more
into
an
vulnerable
acidic
to
soil
condition
and
through
precipitation of pH4 (Jung and Lee 2001:461-470).
4.7.11.2. Environmental Assessment on the Acid Mine Drainage at Youngwol,
Jungseon and Pyungchang Areas.
During December 2000 to July 2002, water samples were collected
seasonally from acid mine drainage and nearby streams at 13 coal mines to
carry
out
an
environmental
assessment
of
the
water
system
in
the
Youngwol, Jungseon and Pyungchang Areas in Korea. The physical and
chemical properties, including pH, Eh, total dissolved solids (TDS), salinity,
bicarbonates and dissolved oxygen (DO), were measured in the field.
Eighteen cations including Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, Mn and Zn, and 6 anions nitrates
were also analyzed respectively.
The acid water from the Jungam coal mine has characteristic of AMD
with a very low pH (3-4 mg/l) and high TDS (1,000-5,000 mg/l). But high
concentrations of heavy metals, such as Al (380 mg/kg), Fe (80), Mn (44)
and Zn (8), were found in the water samples from the Jungam coal mine
area. The water samples from the Seojin, Sebang and Sungjin coal mines
also contained Al (more than 50 mg/l), Fe (100) and Mn (10). In addition to
anions, over 1,000 mg/l of sulfate was found in several water samples.
Seasonally, the concentrations of metals and sulfates varied. During the
wet season samples were relatively higher in metals and sulfates than dry
season samples. It is necessary to establish the proper remediation and
environmental monitoring of the AMD continuously (Jung 2003:111-121).
4.8. Climate Change from Emission of CO2 in Korea.
The climate change is a warning from the Creator concerning the
unsustainability of modern industrial society based on fossil fuels and
unsound economic wealth orientation. It is not only a environmental issue
but also a survival matter for all the creatures created by God. It is not
only a scientific issue but also a ethical matter considering the will of the
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Creator. Nobody can avoid responding to this urgent issue.
It asks us to control the current unrestrained and imprudent economic
growth. Every nation should voluntarily give up trying to have a bigger
share of GHGs emissions to avoid an immediate economic burden. Even
though Korea has achieved some progress in environmental performance,
more complicated challenges lie ahead to supply energy and mineral
resources to meet its rapid economic growth and modern lifestyle.
4.8.1. Environmental Progress.
Several environmental pressures have been decoupled from growth in
gross
domestic
product
(GDP).
Sulphur
oxide
(SOx)
emissions
are
remarkably decoupled from economic growth. The emission growth of
carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides (NOx), small particles (MP10), lead, and
bydrocarbons (VOCs) are all slightly decoupled. Actually, Korean emissions
of SOx and NOx per unit of GDP are below the OECD average.
Concerning the management of general waste, she has accomplished
massive progress. Although the generation of municipal waste has increased
about 6% since the middle of the 1990s, the growth rate is lower than GDP
through volume-based waste fees and the 3R strategy of reduce, recycle
and reuse. The Korean government has constructed sanitary landfills and
achieved energy recovery by landfill gas capture and combustion. The
environmental expenditure has increased and exceeded 2% of GDP in 2007.
4.8.2. Environmental Challenges.
Despite
challenges
the
lie
progress
ahead.
in
The
environmental
problems
management,
require
more
than
more
serious
technological
treatment. What is needed is social restructuring and changes in lifestyle
based on self-reflection on the modern industrialization process and the
relationship between society and nature.
Korea still has problems in managing PM10, Ozone, NOx, and carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions. The air quality in Seoul turned out to be the worst
among the capitals of member countries of the OECD in 2007. Concentration
levels of PM10 and nitrogen dioxide, and an increasing frequency of high
ozone
concentrations
are
problematic
in
the
Seoul
megalopolis.
The
concentration levels of PM10 in the Seoul megalopolis satisfies the Korean
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environmental standard (70 micrograms per cubic meter), but are much
higher than the standard of WHO (40 micrograms per cubic meter).
Increasing numbers of cars and high population density have led to a
deterioration of air quality despite improving fuel quality and
engine
technology.
Chemical management is also troublesome. Even though the risk posed
by chemicals was forewarned by Rachel Carson in her "Silent Spring"
(1962), more than 100,000 kinds of chemicals are globally circulated and
more
than
2,000
kinds
of
chemicals
are
annually
developed
and
commercialized. Chemicals are used everywhere from home detergents to
mining fields. In pursuit of a convenient life and profitable industrial
production, their safety has not been assured through risk assessment.
Since the consumption of chemicals is rapidly increasing year by year in
Korea, the safe management of chemicals has become urgent. Thorough risk
assessment and cautious management are necessary, because a lot of
chemicals can make a fatal impact on human health and the ecosystem.
Korea is facing a very critical moment requiring deeper recognition of the
interlocking relationship between human beings and the ecosystem, because
the chemical management is just beginning in Korea.
4.8.3. Emission Control of CO2.
The
most
serious
environmental
problem
Korea
is
facing
now
is
increasing CO2 emissions. CO2, mainly produced from fossil fuel combustion,
is the most effective greenhouse gas (GHG), which causes climate change
resulting from global warming.
CO2 takes the largest share of the total emission of GHGs by volume,
accounting for 88.4% in Korea which is much higher than the global level of
77% and 83.2% in industrialized countries. This environmental evidence
demonstrates that the rapid economic growth has been accompanied with
more energy consumption and more CO2 emissions. This means again that
CO2 emissions are highly correlated with energy consumption which enables
rapid economic growth and more convenient lifestyles.
Korea has drawn global attention because of her unique situation and
rapid growth of GHGs emissions. Although Korea is a member of the OECD,
she is classified with the non-industrialized countries which have no
obligation to reduce GHGs emissions during the first commitment period of
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the Kyoto Protocol.
Korea reached the 10th place in the world in 2004 in terms of
energy-related CO2 emissions. Her CO2 emissions have doubled (rising
104.6%) from 1990 to 2004. This is the highest among the members of the
OECD. With regard to the absolute amount of CO2 emission growth, she
ranks fourth during 1990 to 2002.
Korea's energy consumption has sharply increased since the middle of
the 1970s accompanied with the rapid economic growth driven by heavy and
chemical industries. The increasing rate in energy consumption has almost
outpaced the growth rate of GDP for the last 40 years. Concerning per
capita energy consumption, Korea of 4.43 tons of oil equivalent (TOE)
exceeded Japan of 4.18 TOE, Germany of 4.22, and most EU countries of
3.91 in 2004 (Yun 2007:4-5).
During the 20th century, the world temperature increased by 0.6 Celsius,
while in Korea it increased 1.5 Celsius owing to the effect of urban heat
islands through urbanization. Korea is very vulnerable to climate change
because she is a peninsula with long coastal lines. So, Korea should actively
set up a reduction target for CO2 emission and set an example by fulfilling
it before the first year of a post-Kyoto treaty.
Table 4.13: Emission Trends of GHGs in South Korea.
Index
Unit
1990
1995
2000
2004
GHG
million ton
310.6
452.8
528.6
590.6
CO2
million ton
239.0
366.9
432.2
482.5
GDP
billion Won
Annual Growth
Rate: '90-'04
4.0%
5.1%
320,696 467,099 578,665 693,424
5.7%
GHG/GDP
ton/million Won
0.97
0.97
0.91
0.85
-0.9%
CO2/GDP
ton/million won
0.75
0.79
0.75
0.70
-0.5%
Source: Yun, Sun-Jin, "Climate Change Test for Korean Adaptability,"
The Korea Herald, December 7, 2007, p. 4.
4.9. Environmental Impact from Nuclear Power Plants in Korea.
Some scientists assert that human history is a chronicle of taking
advantage
of
nature's
power
to
improve
the
quality
of
life
by
the
development of science and technology. The power of fire was used to
illuminate the darkness, and wind power drove ships to discover new
worlds. In more detail, what would we do without electricity today? What if
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power went out at a hospital? What if office elevators stopped working?
Such opinions and questions make us all appreciate the development of
science and technology and a stable electricity supply. However, they are
only meaningful because of the existence of human beings and nature. All
these assumptions can be overwhelmed by the question, "What if there were
no users?" How if there is no nature?
Furthermore, energy is neither created nor destroyed, which is the same
total amount as created by the Creator God. This is known as the principle
of energy conservation. Ultimately, electrical power generation is simply the
transformation of natural energy into electrical energy useful to people.
Thus, being environmental-friendly not only for the current generation but
also for future generations, this is not a choice but a necessity for all
power generation projects.
Therefore, we should minimize the negative impacts from the operation
of existing nuclear plants on human beings and environments through
assessing the environmental impact and changes in the ecosystem around
the plants transparently, objectively and regularly. We should also improve
sewage and wastewater treatment and waste-reduction facilities to protect
marine resources, reduce discharge of nuclear pollutants and prevent
leakage of any radioactive materials into the environment.
4.9.1. Nuclear Plant Technology.
In
the
not-too-distant
past,
Koreans
did
not
even
have
adequate
electricity for lighting. Virtually no one then imagined that power generation
would become one of the nation's leading industries. It is certain that Korea
cannot tap into non-existent petroleum reserves, but technology serves as a
power for self-reliance. It also is agreed that Korean nuclear power
technology has already caught the world's attention. Few people doubt today
that Korean power generation technology is world class. However, Korea
should not stop research and development (R&D), keeping in mind the
dangerous stigma of nuclear plants.
We should note that Korea is not a safe land from earthquakes which
occurs more than 100 times with a low magnitude annually. Japan had been
proud of its safe operations of their nuclear plants from her frequent and
powerful earthquakes. But we should pay special attention to the fire and
releasing accident of radioactive materials at Gasiwajaki-Gariwa nuclear
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plant by the magnitude 6.8 earthquake which occurred in Nigata Province
July 16, 2007 (Park  2007:7).
4.9.2. Nuclear Waste Treatment.
South Korea finally decided on a site to build disposal facilities for low
to medium level radioactive waste in 2005 after a long struggle with serious
opposition against the site decision. However, she still has a serious
dilemma to deal with the high level waste (HLW) from Kori Unit #1 which
will close down in the near future, maintaining more than 10,000 years and
having no precedent treatment in the world as mentioned in 3.3.2.
The original life span of the reactor of Kori Unit #1 was 30 years which
finished in April 2008. However, after serious disputes concerning the
prolongation in light of the safety of the plant in 2008, she finally decided
to expand 10 to 20 years (Cho 2008:1-2). No matter how long it will
prolong from now on, the 10 to 20 years is too short to prepare its
treatment for 10,000 years.
4.9.2. Plant-building Plan.
After starting the establishment of a nuclear plant in 1978 without
opening discussions with the citizens by the Korean military government at
that time, she is now operating 20 plants with 6 plants under construction.
Furthermore, she declared the first national energy basic plan to build 10
plants more by 2030 in a small land of 99,117 km
with public concern
about nuclear technology and also without citizen consensus for further
plant development.
This is a very serious ethical problem as well as the environmental
impact which will definitely give serious burdens to the next generations
and even neighboring states in the light of long, huge and the dangerous
stigma of nuclear plants. This is obviously to be met with strong opposition
from civic groups that have been against the use of nuclear power, only
leading to increasing energy consumption and producing massive nuclear
waste (Cho 2008:3).
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