This lab examines the importance and environmental impacts of mining.
- Students Balance Manufacturing & Industry Needs with Generated Waste Products
- Application: Simulating Copper Extraction and Refining Processes
- Activities Include Simulated Electrowinning
- Students Can Perform Activities Independently or in Groups
- Lab Aligns with AP® Environmental Science Topics I.A, IV.D, IV.E, V.C, VI.A, VI.B, and VI.C.
The mining of natural earth materials is essential to our modern manufacturing, energy production, and countless industries requiring these critical resources. But mining operations can also generate wastes that can pollute the environment. How do we balance these needs with potential environmental impacts? Your students take a firsthand look at the methods, controls, wastes, and reclamation steps that impact today’s mining industry. They simulate copper extraction methods from mine tailings and demonstrate a refining process known as electrowinning.
In addition, students work with actual copper mine tailings and test new reclamation methods. They use biosolids in place of topsoil to restore habitat and limit environmental damage. Finally, in a guided-inquiry activity, they apply their skills and knowledge to determine the economic feasibility of starting a new coal mining operation. Students can perform this activity collectively or independently. The lab aligns with AP® Environmental Science Topics I.A, IV.D, IV.E, V.C, VI.A, VI.B, and VI.C.
Ordering information: This lab includes testing and sampling materials, a teacher's manual, student copymasters, and a resource CD.