Pre-Unit 3 Homework - Abandoned Mine Lands & SuperFund/National Priorities List
Upon completion of this segment, students should be able to:
- Describe how wastes are created and managed during the different stages of mineral resource production and what can be done to minimize the negative effects of mining and related processes.
Context for Use
This assignment is intended for use prior to the Unit 3 section on Mining and Mining Impacts to familiarize students with some of the negative impacts of the mining and mineral processing methodologies, especially in the absence of significant regulation. This homework can be assigned to individuals or pairs. Internet access and the ability to read online pdf documents is necessary. No prior knowledge is necessary, but it is important that students first complete the Unit 3 background reading (found here: Unit 3 Pre-Class Work) to provide exposure to the terminology they will need in this assignment.
This assignment is optional, as it may not fit into an instructor's allotted time. This assignment does work well as an alternative to the Muffin Mining activity, however, when the student discussion of this homework is done as an in-class Gallery Walk/Run as described below.
Description and Teaching Materials
Students are assigned an AML Superfund site to research and answer questions about.
Mining Methods and Impacts Pre-Class Homework in Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 157kB Oct4 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 231kB Oct4 14) Students should read and complete this handout.
Example AML and Superfund Sign-Up Sheet in Word (Microsoft Word 120kB Oct4 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 138kB Oct4 14) This example sign-up sheet includes all the AML/NPL sites that do not have particular complications. Remind students to note their selected site name, EPA Region number, and access information when they sign up so they can complete their homework.Gallery Walk Version of AML and Superfund Pre-Class Homework in Word (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 137kB Oct4 14) and in PDF: (Acrobat (PDF) 98kB Oct4 14) This file describes a way for the students to wrap up the assignment in class as a Gallery Walk/Run (about 35 minutes of class time). The students still research an AML/NPL site for homework, but this replaces the overarching questions on the homework and provides an opportunity for interaction and discussion within the classroom. You can find information on Gallery Walks and their pedagogical benefits here: Gallery Walk.
Full List of AML and Superfund Sites in Excel (Excel 51kB Aug2 14) and in PDF. (Acrobat (PDF) 62kB Aug2 14) In case this is helpful to the instructor, this file lists all the different AML/NPL sites and their status, if they are currently accessible (as of 11/15/12), and if so, how students could access the file with appropriate information. It is derived from the EPA website NPL Sites. The sign-up sheet (above) is derived from this file.
Teaching Notes and Tips
- The Unit 3 background reading (found here: Unit 3 Pre-Class Work) will help students understand the terminology used on the website, so remind students to read it before starting this assignment.
- Students may still struggle with the technical language in the Site Summaries. The intent is that the students will be able to find the information that they need even if they do not understand every word. The instructor may need to be available for questions, to provide guidance, and to encourage students to look up words in their own.
- The AML/NPL sites vary in the amount of information they provide and the amount of description. The instructor should reemphasize to the students the level of detail they expect. Students should be encouraged to navigate around their site's web resources and to look into various files if they cannot find the needed information right away, but it is not the purpose of this assignment to have them read 100-page site write-ups.
- The instructor could decide to limit the list of AML/NPL sites to particular regions, sites, or types of mining process/mineral, etc.
- There are approximately 130 sites on the AML/NPL website (see Excel file above), although a few of them (less than 10) are not recommended for this activity due to lack of information or the complexity in tracking down the requested information.
- Some of these AML/NPL sites are sites related to uranium mining. The instructor can decide whether to omit these sites as uranium may be dealt with in an energy section of the course.
- For larger classes, more than one student can complete the write-up for a single site.
- It is important for students to discuss their homework (results and impression) before continuing with the rest of the unit. Instructors could ask students to discuss their impressions of their sites, what types of contamination problems were experienced, how many students had sites where clean-ups were still ongoing, and what the downsides of increased regulation might be (slower mineral extraction/beneficiation, higher cost, etc.). The instructor can link the discussion to the Unit 3 reading, highlighting common points (e.g., acid mine drainage and remediation) as a way to also review those concepts.
The assignment could be graded in a quick, "how thoroughly was this completed" way, or individual answers could be graded. Alternatively, the instructor could grade the table for thoroughness but the answers to summary questions more carefully.
References and Resources
- The website that the students will be using is: EPA NPL Mining Sites.
- If for some reason links on that website are not working, one may be able to find the NPL listing via the EPA Superfund site at EPA NPL Where You Live. The instructor's answer key (linked above) gives more instructions. Contacting the EPA directly with website/link issues may also be helpful.
- Other sources of information include the EPA Abandoned Mine Lands and the EPA Superfund/NPL websites (and their links) including EPA Superfund AML, EPA NPL Basic Information, and EPA Superfund Basic Information.