Introduction > Potential Impacts

Potential Impacts

Potash mines can bring a range of benefits to the economy, as well as risks to both the economy and the environment.

Socio-Economic Aspects

Economic benefits for the state and counties include: royalty revenues for mining on public lands; state and county ad valorem taxes; and sales tax revenue. Other benefits may include: construction and permanent jobs and the
spending that results from employment; business for local service providers and suppliers; payments to property owners; development of businesses that are necessary to support mining or that are enabled by it; development of educational programs for workforce training; and direct investments that companies make in communities through corporate social responsibility projects, often involving infrastructure, educational programs or medical facilities and services.

The socio-economic risks include stresses resulting from: needs associated with in-migration of workers; transitions between stages in the life of the mine; and mine closure and the consequent loss of royalties, rents, tax revenue, jobs and indirect income to the community. Risks also come with the introduction of a large, new socio-economic influence.

Key challenges include providing educational programs for workforce development to support long-term employment of local people, especially tribal members; making sure adequate housing and amenities are available for workers; and providing opportunities for local suppliers to compete effectively for procurement contracts.

Environmental Aspects

Most of an underground mine is not visible on the land surface, of course, but there are surface facilities, such as mine shafts or well pads, a mill, tailings storage facilities, solar evaporation ponds, pipeline networks, and product storage, transportation and administrative facilities.

There are environmental costs and risks for both the surface and underground facilities. Key environmental risks may include: subsidence (that is, sinking of the land surface); infiltration of water into the mine, mine shafts or around bore
Silver Creek Canyon, Navajo County
holes; leaching from tailings and other waste into the land and water; and dust and other types of air pollution.

In the Holbrook Basin, protecting the aquifer above the potash deposit is vital. The Coconino aquifer is a very large water supply thatís invaluable to the local area and to the state of Arizona.

Mitigation involves careful and conscientious planning for baseline assessments, feasibility studies, civil engineering and construction as well as ongoing environmental monitoring. Safe operation of the mine, the mill, waste management areas and tailings storage facilities are also essential.

Petrified Forest National Park

Protection of the Petrified Forest National Park is another important challenge in the Holbrook Basin. Naturally, both local groups and national organizations prize the amazing geological, archaeological and paleontological resources, along with the opportunities the park affords visitors and researchers.

For More Information

Environmental Aspects of Phosphate and Potash Mining

Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park
Large Mines and the Community

Petrified Forest National Park: General Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Assessment

Petrified Forest National Park: Park Boundary Expansion

Navajo Nation

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