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Mineral Extraction


A Bird's Eye View of Mineral Extraction

Degrading and Removing Habitat, Using Limited Water and Polluting Surrounding Areas

Mineral extraction provides many resources upon which human society depends, yet the cost to nature of habitat degradation and removal can be extremely high. Mineral extraction is any process that involves isolating minerals from natural sources such as rock or soil.

The presence of mineral extraction industries can result in the removal of large regions of migratory bird habitat (sometimes even eradicating entire mountains and lakes); however, the extensive use of water and the creation of waste products can also greatly affect the health of a much larger surrounding area of habitat.


Some extraction processes can use and pollute large amounts of limited water supplies from local wetlands, lake and rivers. Waste water from extraction industries can be extensively contaminated with poisonous metals and chemicals used to isolate minerals.

Tapping already scarce water supplies can lower water levels in surrounding wetlands, rivers and lakes that migratory birds use. Lower water levels can drastically change wetlands ecosystems and food webs migrating birds need.


Damaging Biodiversity 

Heavy Metals Damage Food Webs and Poison Migrating Birds 

Waste water from mineral extraction can contain heavy metals and chemicals and contaminate surrounding wetlands and aquifers. These contaminants can greatly reduce the productivity of animal and plant life and affect food webs, damaging the natural environment’s ability to support migrating birds by affecting food supplies.

Heavy metals can enter habitats first through contaminated water or soil, then through food webs starting with plants and small animals. They concentrate and become deadlier in animals as such migratory birds that eat large amounts of contaminated plants and animals from affected habitats and food webs.

Tailing ponds store waste water from extraction processes and contain high concentrations of heavy metals and toxic chemicals. Migrating birds can see these ponds as water sources, but landing in them is often fatal.

Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cyanide are extremely toxic to most life, including migratory birds. They disrupt normal bodily functions from metabolism to respiration and can cause death even in small quantities.



The Lake Cowal Campaign

See an Australian example of how mineral extraction can threaten large areas of Migratory bird habitat.




A Bird's Eye View of Mineral Extraction

See "A Bird's Eye View" of mineral extraction examples on the WMBD Event Google Map: Example of Open Pit mine, Example of Tailing Ponds




Register a WMBD Event

Register a WMBD event to raise awareness about the effects of mineral extraction on migratory birds in your area and receive WMBD posters and stickers to support your event.