Here is a passage for practicing IELTS Reading Skills. Solve the questions and find the strategy for solving the passage at the end of the page.
Pointers to keep in mind:
- Time is of the essence, so always make sure you finish solving the exercise in 7 mins.
- Do not take external help, this exercise is to help you evaluate your skills.
- Do not look at the answers section till you have finished answering the questions yourself.
- There are 6 parts to the exercise, all are compulsory.
- Spend the 6 mins finding the answer. Allocate 1 min to finding the answer to one question.
- After having found all the answers, fill the answer sheet in the last minute.
Coal mining and its effects on the natural environment
Underground mines, which provide the majority of the world’s coal, allow coal companies to extract deep coal deposits. .Around the world, Greenpeace campaigns to help communities stop coal mines, and speed up the shift to 100 percent clean, safe renewable energy.
Strip mining is highly destructive. Yet the industry often prefers to strip mine because it takes less labour and yields more coal than underground mining. In some countries, such as Australia, strip mines make up 80 percent of mines.
Strip mining clears trees, plants and topsoil. Mining companies scrape away earth and rocks to get to coal buried near the surface. Mountains may be blasted apart to reach thin coal seams within, leaving permanent scars on the landscape.In this way, strip mining destroys landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats. It leads to soil erosion and destruction of agricultural land.
When rain washes topsoil disturbed by mining into streams, these sediments pollute waterways. This can hurt fish and smother plant life downstream. It can also disfigure river channels and streams, which leads to flooding.
Strip mining also causes noise pollution and dust as heavy machinery disrupts topsoil and mining activity creates coal dust.
When miners upturn earth, minerals and heavy metals within it can dissolve into mine wastewater and seep into the water table. This increases risk of chemical contamination of groundwater and acid mine drainage .
Strip mining also lowers groundwater levels around the mine. This is because, in order to remove coal, vast quantities of groundwater must be pumped out of the mine. As a result, surrounding ecosystems and farmland may become drier, and erosion may start to change the landscape. Strip mining also uses significant amount of water to suppress dust.
When mines lower groundwater levels, this also affects local people, who must continually drill deeper wells to get water.
Washing coal (to remove unwanted materials) creates a toxic waste slurry that can threaten surface waters or leak into groundwater.
About 40 percent of the world’s coal mines are the more damaging strip mines also called as surface mining
Coal power plants also strain precious global water supplies
Underground mining lowers the water table, changing the flow of groundwater and streams.
In Germany, the mining industry pumps over 500 million cubic meters of water out of the ground every year. Only a small percentage of this water is used by industry or local towns — the rest is wasted. What’s worse, removing so much water creates a kind of funnel that drains groundwater from an area that is much larger than the immediate coal-mining environment.
Underground mining also brings huge amounts of waste earth and rock to the surface. This waste often becomes toxic when it contacts air and water.
Coal mine methane
Coal mining releases methane into the atmosphere. Formed during the geological process that creates coal, methane is 84 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at disrupting the climate over a 20-year timespan.
Globally, about six percent of methane emissions due to human activity come from coal mining.
Most coal mine methane comes from underground mines. This methane is often captured and used as town fuel, industrial fuel, chemical feedstock and vehicle fuel. Methane is also used in power generation projects.
The process to extract this methane, coal seam gas fracking, creates large amounts of waste water, risking surface and groundwater sources. It also increases the risk of uncontrolled methane leaks, contaminating water sources and destroying climate. Yet coal bed methane projects have been increasing rapidly globally.
Coal fires can burn for decades or even centuries, releasing fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals. These fires are a significant environmental problem in China, Russia, the US, Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.
Coal fires occur when coal seams burn or smoulder, or when coal storage or waste piles burn. Lightning, forest fires and peat fires can start coal fires. But they are often caused by mining accidents and bad mining practises. In Indonesia, the same fires used to clear large tracts of rainforest ignited over 300 coal fires since the 1980s.
Underground coal fires can release smoke laden gases including carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Coal fires also cause fly ash to release from mine vents and fissures.
Coal fires can cause temperatures to rise at the surface, and contaminate groundwater, soil and air.
China has the world’s most coal fires. Between 20 and 200 million tons of coal burn uncontrollably each year. This accounts for 0.5 to 5 percent of China’s national coal consumption and related carbon dioxide emissions. (Although coal fires are significant, emissions from China’s power plants are far higher.) India, on the other hand, has the world’s greatest concentration of coal fires.
When coal and other rocks unearthed during mining mix with water, this creates acid mine drainage. The water takes on toxic levels of minerals and heavy metal and leaks out of abandoned mines. From there it contaminates groundwater, streams, soil, plants, animals and humans.
Taking on an orange colour, it can blanket rivers, estuaries or sea beds, killing plants and making surface water unusable for drinking. Acid mine drainage can continue for decades or centuries after a mine closes unless costly reclamation projects are done.
Greenpeace documented massive open-cast coal mines’ harmful effects in Kalimantan, Borneo. The mines cause widespread water pollution when they discharge toxic waste into rivers and leave acid mine drainage to collect in artificial lakes.
Mining coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet, exposes both miners and local populations to health hazards.
When people who work in mines, or live close by them, inhale coal dust and carbon, this hardens their lungs, leading to black lung disease (also called pneumoconiosis or CWP). An estimated 1,200 people in the US still die from black lung disease annually. The situation is even worse in developing countries.
Mine collapses and accidents kill over a thousand workers around the world every year. Chinese coal mine accidents killed more than 900 people in 2014 alone.
People living near coal mines have higher-than-normal rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease.
Local communities also suffer when coal fires occur. These fires emit toxic levels of arsenic, fluorine, mercury and selenium, contaminants that can enter the air and food chain of local communities.
List of heading
- The effects of coal mines on the health of the community of the people.
- The process of mining not only uses water but also reduces the groundwater levels.
- Drainage due to mining can be a possible problem in the future.
- The documentation of the toxic wastes created by the process of mining.
- Coal mining can be injurious to the commoner who work and live in the vicinity.
- Mining contributes to adding the harmful substances into the atmosphere.
- Burning coal can cause harmful gases to be released in the atmosphere
- Surface mining has always been corrosive to the landscape and pollutes water ways.
- Paragraph F
- Paragraph C
- Paragraph A
- Paragraph E
- Paragraph G
- Paragraph B
- Paragraph H
- Paragraph D
Strategies to solve Matching the Heading type of questions:
Step1: Read the passage.
Read the passage carefully and after reading the passage and the questions, highlight the answers you spotted easily.
Step 2: Spot Keywords
For the answers you did not find, go through the passage again paragraph by paragraph. Underline the keywords you recognize.
Step 3: Before writing the answer
After you think you have found all the answers recheck if your answer clearly addresses the question. Then carefully transfer the answers to the answer sheet.
A. Surface mining has always been corrosive to the landscape and pollutes waterways.
B. The process of mining not only uses water but also reduces the groundwater levels.
C. Drainage due to mining can be a possible problem in the future.
D. Mining contributes to adding the harmful substances into the atmosphere.
E. Burning coal can cause harmful gases to be released in the atmosphere
F. The documentation of the toxic wastes created by the process of mining.
G. Coal mining can be injurious to the commoner who work and live in the vicinity.
H. The effects of coal mines on the health of the community of the people.
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