Mining: the impact on the landscape

Although underground mining does not damage the Earth's surface rapidly, its long-term impact restricts land use and human activities in the mined areas. Underground mining of oil shale has resulted in change in the water regime; low wells have become dry and soils in forests and fields have lost moisture. Mining and pyrite oxidation have polluted the water in old mines, and this pollution has reached ground water reservoirs. The ceilings of the shafts located at a depth of 10–50 m keep collapsing, leaving the Earth´s surface with terraces and holes. The former mining areas are not suitable for building construction.

The influence of the open cast mining is more directly perceivable. Natural landscapes, soil cover, plant cover, and surface waters have been destroyed, other mineral resources (e.g. sand and peat) have been damaged. Also, several old villages have perished. Instead, new artificial landscapes are formed that consist usually of plateaus and networks of channels that fill with the water later on.

The open-cast mines have damaged former forests, mires, and, to a lesser extent, fields

Pine, birch and larch trees have been used for reforestation of new landscapes, formed after the reclamation of old pits. Decades later, lichens and mosses, grasses and bushes have not yet recovered in these forests, but wild animals have returned to the area. Bears have been encountered in forested, uneven landscapes of the Viivikonna Quarry, which are nearly inaccessible.

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