Mining has been going on for a long time. How long? Well, that depends on what you call mining. According to Wikipedia, mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the Earth. So, by that definition, this could date back to the paleolithic era. According to Wikipedia (again… sorry) the paleolithic era extended from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominins about 3.3 million years ago, until the end of the Pleistocene, about 11,650 years ago (that seems unreasonably precise). Humans were using rock for many purposes, and in essence, they mined for that rock.
Have you ever heard to old joke that the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of rocks?
Fast forward, and today there is mining activity and past evidence of it, spread worldwide (okay, probably not in Antarctica). Mining leaves a legacy behind, in one way or another. Growing up here in the western U.S., it always felt to me like the miners of old saw the western part of North America as being vast and plenty. Endless, even. In that way, they could mine and prospect without conscience, and leave behind all manners of scars and other evidence that they had been there. Their tunnels could emit orange/yellow waters, but it mattered little, because the country was so never-ending in its expanse. Maybe they just didn’t care. I don’t know. It is what it is, anyway.
I know that there were mining operations that were driven by our critical material needs for natural resources during WWII, and very little (if any) stewardship was taken to guard our planet against that mining activities.
Currently, society has deemed it acceptable for responsible mining to be carried out. We have material needs that can’t be met solely through agriculture and recycling. We need to be careful with that permission.
By the way, if mining is ever banned, mining will all be done on the black market, and we really don’t want to go there. It wouldn’t be good for anyone. Except the pirates.