3.2 Surface mining
Many environmental issues arise when surface mining is considered, and such mines regularly arouse local opposition. By their very nature, surface mines have a major impact on the landscape, involving the digging of enormous pits with accompanying noise, dust and traffic movements, and destruction of mature landscape. Increasingly, in recent years the environmentally conscious public has used the planning processes to oppose and sometimes prevent mining on sites where the environmental impact would be severe.
Many steps can be taken to minimize the nuisance of surface mines. Topsoil is commonly stored in graded embankments around the boundaries of mines as a baffle against visual intrusion, noise and dust. On-site vehicles can be fitted with effective silencers. To prevent dust being raised on site, water bowsers spray haulage roads. Lorries leaving the site pass through wheel washers and their loads are often covered. Furthermore, individual mines have lives limited to 5-10 years and operators are required to restore former sites to productive farmland, forestry or recreational use by re-spreading the original topsoil.