Dynamics of Landscape Transformation During Coal Mining

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In some cases, between the first stage and the subsequent development of mining operations, some time delay may occur due to organizational, economic, and other costs. During this time, the transformed landscape can catch time and grow vegetation, until the appearance of thickets of woody species.

So, for example, as a result of geological exploration in the 1950s, the landscapes of de-posits in the Elkon uranium-ore region still remain altered and are sources of local anthropogenic impact on the adjacent territory. With the growth of mining, the volume of processed rocks and ore, the increase in the composition of the equipment used, the boundaries of transformable landscapes expand, the de-gree of the enterprise’s impact on the adjacent territory also increases.

On the territory of the mining allotment, the land cover is almost completely destroyed, significant areas are occupied by rock dumps, tailings, mine workings, various transport, engi-neering networks, power lines, repair bases, gas stations and shift camps. At this stage, the fea-tures of permafrost are maximally manifested: thermokarst phenomena, frost heaving of rocks, ice formation, thermoerosion, solifluction, etc. Dust and gas emissions during drilling and blast-ing operations, during the mining equipmentoperation, processing, crushing and screening devic-es, boiler houses, and dust removal from exposed areas and waste dumps affect the biogeochem-ical composition of the soil and vegetation cover and natural waters.

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The scale and degree of the adjacent territory degradation depends on the size of the min-ing allotment, the production capacity of the enterprise, the applied technology and equipment, the emissions and dischargesvolume, the labor organization, the environmental protection meas-ures implemented during the production activities, and the volume of nature-restoration meas-ures. At the stage of reducing production volumes, the load on the natural environment de-creases, the first signs of vegetation overgrowing begin to appear in the developed areas of the field, the hydrochemical and microelement composition of the waterways is gradually improving.

However, the technogenic load on the natural environment does not stop even after a complete stop of mining operations and the liquidation of production. For example, in the Aldan region, the Lebedinsky ZF tailing dump remains a potential source of environmental impact. Geochemical tests of the tailing dump site, carried out 4-5 years after the factory shutdown, re-vealed a fairly wide range of trace elements and chemical compounds hazardous to the natural environment, including traces of sodium cyanide. The duration of secondary pollution of natural environments depends on the self-healing ability of this landscape and the funds invested in remediation measures, the completeness and quality of their implementation.

Currently, intensive coal mining is concentrated in South Yakutia, where since 1975 the Neryungrinskoye large coal deposit has been open-pit mined, the Mechel group is implementing a project to build the Elga coal complex within the North-West section of the Elga coal deposit, UK Management Company 'Colmar' is building 2 large mining and processing complexes of ore-processing mills Denisovskoye and Inaglinskoye. The total annual coal production in 2023 of the Denisovsky and Inaglinsky plants should be 30 million tons.

Figure 3 shows the dynamics of landscape transformation during coal mining in the area of Neryungricity and settl. Chulman, where there is a gradual increase in areas of disturbed landscapes associated with increasing volumes of coal mining by the Neryungrinsky quarry, the construction of Neryungricity, the laying of the railway, the ESPO pipeline and the Power of Si-beria gas pipeline.

The indirect influence of the Neryungri industrial complex during atmospheric air pollu-tion can be traced up to 80-100 km in the southeast direction and the total area of the territory changed with background indicators is 1200-1500 km2. These results are confirmed by a mathematical model developed by employees of the Joint Institute of Geology, Geophysics and Mineralogy named after A. A. Trofimuk and the Institute of Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences based on joint research with us on dust emissions from mining operations in the Neryungrinsky open pit. As production increases by Denisovsky and Inaglinskyore-processing mills, significant expansion and imposition of impact zones on the natural environment can occur, which can lead to the development of local ecosystem changes in a larger regional transformation.

Thus, due to the natural conditions of the Yakutialocation, intensive devel-opment of deposits can have significant environmental consequences. Therefore, the issues of solving environmental problems in the mineral deposits development in the region are currently gaining deeper content, both in the scientific and applied fields. 

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