Unit 6: Mining, Society, and Decision Making
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
- Describe how different stages of mineral resource extraction and use (mining, beneficiation, production, consumption, and/or disposal) affect land use; pollute land, air, and/or water; and create wastes, and discuss how waste products are/can be managed.
- Identify stakeholders, explain their viewpoints, and weigh their diverse views in determining if, how, and where to mine and use particular mineral resources.
- Make informed predictions of future supply, demand, and impacts of using the mineral resource, based on (a) population change, (b) technology change, and (c) people's choices, specifically addressing how personal choices impact resource sustainability.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Pre-class work involves reading assignments and/or homework assignments as described in the individual activity pages (click the links below for Option 1: Phosphorus Activity, or Option 2: Gold Mining Activity).
Instructors should pick one of the activities below. Both activities are jigsaws and cover diverse aspects of the extraction, processing, use, and/or disposal processes, and impacts for a given mineral resource (either phosphorus or gold). Instructors should pick the activity that seems most interesting or relevant to their course, as they both address the learning outcomes. For more information on jigsaws as teaching techniques, please see: https://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/jigsaws/index.html.
Phosphorus is a nutrient required for life and as such is an important ingredient in chemical fertilizers. During this in-class activity, students participate in a jigsaw activity, working in four groups on individual aspects of phosphate mining and use. They then rearrange into final groups, with at least one person from each of the four groups. In these groups, students try to make some overarching conclusions about phosphate use and mining. To prepare for class, students will have read about phosphorus and phosphate mining.
In this activity, students investigate different aspects of gold mining and think critically about the perceived and real needs for this mineral resource as well as the impacts (positive and negative) that both gold mining and recycling can have. It integrates concepts and terminology from earlier in the course into real-world situations and personal decision making. This exercise is also designed as a jigsaw activity (as described for the phosphorus activity above). Students should complete the assigned pre-class reading prior to coming to class.