31 Mar 2014

The nightmare on Inner Mongolia grassland

J writes:*

Inner Mongolia is a very beautiful province which has abundant resources including grassland pasture, mineral resource, cattle and sheep. In recent years, a lot of “man-made holes” appears on the grounds, which are abandoned and untreated wasted mine. The main reason is that most small mining owners are coyoting and over mining to maximize their private interest regardless the bad effect to the environment and local residence. Administrative omission is another reason. Government has not promptly monitored the mineral resource and effectively regulated the bad production activity of small mining company. These small mining owners only get the economic benefit from mining and didn't pay any cost for treatment pollution and back-fill the abandoned mines.

The above behaviors led to serious consequences [Chinese]. Firstly, the ecological environment in Inner Mongolia has been severely destroyed. Because of grassland desertification and pasture degradation, ranchers can’t graze on “holes” area; meanwhile, animals that used to live in grassland lost their home. Secondly, the residents’ living environment has been deteriorated by mining pollution. A lot of uncovered sand, blown by wind, heavily pollutes the air. Thirdly, those abandoned mines are not been back-filled which is dangerous to people and animals, who can easily fall inside the holes especially in the bad light conditions during nighttime. Lastly, the chemical residues which are used to smelt gold mines pollute the groundwater, which is a serious threat to the local people’s health.

To deal with this problem, local government must establish efficient exploitation regulations. More important is that officials should be governing mineral resource in strict accordance with the regulation. Besides, government also has to monitor miner’s production activities, punish the miner who didn't follow the rules. Mine owners not only have to pay for the pollution but also compensate local resident.

Bottom Line: Inner Mongolia’s environment has been severely destroyed.

* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.


Umlud said...

The main reason is that small mining owners are coyoting and over mining...

What do you mean by "coyoting"? The term - in the meaning you wish to use - is not one of common usage in English. A more common phrasing would be "surface mining".

The origin of this word ("coyote") is from the Nahuatl word for the wolf-like animal that lives in North America (according to Wikipedia, the translation of "coyote" into Chinese is 郊狼).

I've done a search to look for the use of this term in a technical sense, and the only uses (outside of those of the California gold rush of the 1800s) in the scholarly literature seem to be primarily from sources from Chinese authors writing in English. In English-language sources, the term is almost always expressed with quotation marks to indicate that it's a non-technical term or a colloquialism.

Even if this is an accurate technical term for this practice of surface mining (which I cannot find evidence of, but still, the lesson holds for all very specific technical terms), the use of such an unknown term/highly specialized technical in a blog post for a well-read audience of non-specialists should not happen.

Bottom line: Know your potential audience. Know the available options in English. Know when to use the right words for the right audience.

2364 said...

The damage to the prairie is devastating! I totally agree with the ideas in your post. These irresponsible behaviors destroy the natural environment of Mongolia and make the local residents suffer from severe land loss.

The mining companies do not back fill the abandoned mines because there is absolutely no costs to their unethical behaviors. Also, it is hard to trace back who are responsible for the abandoned mines when there is no established institution.

In the case of a negative externality, the winners have to compensate the losers. The mine owners needs to adopt environmental technologies or pay a substantial amount to cover the loss of the locals. I totally agree that the local government needs to establish strict regulations and monitor the behaviors of mining companies. Right now, the local government also needs to restore the natural environment. They can do so by taxing major mining companies and subsidize the local communities to reshape the grasslands.

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