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Copper ore dust asphyxiation

Copper ore dust asphyxiation - Stand destroyed by mine pollution
  • Latin name: Suffocacio aeris Humain
  • French name: Asphyxie par poussière de minerai de cuivre
  • Division: Pollutio
  • Class: Pulveraria


Leaf, Needle, Whole tree



Damage, symptoms and biology

There are many pollution sources in the vicinity of copper mines. The crushed ore residues (tailings) contain a large amount of sulphur and the leaching effluents are extremely toxic. These effluents contain heavy metals in suspension, such as lead, mercury and arsenic. To extract the copper from the ore, a huge quantity of water must be used and it becomes contaminated with the same pollutants as the leaching effluents. Crushing of the ore likewise produces a large amount of dust. Finally, the energy needed for copper smelting requires the use of large amounts of fossil fuel, mostly coal. The utilization of this type of energy produces a wide variety of atmospheric pollutants like NOx and SOx, resulting in acid precipitation. Forest stands near copper mines suffer disastrous damage. Tree mortality may extend over an area of tens of kilometers around the mine.

Other information

Over the past few years, environmental standards have been increased and there has been a slight decrease in damage to the environment.

Canadian Forest Service Publications

Copper ore dust asphyxiation

Information on host(s)

Main host(s)

Conifer, deciduous


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