Copper Mining in Montana: The Environmental Impacts

Copper was vital to industrialization and is still widely used today. In places like this forgotten Montana town, however, the practice of copper mining has disastrously polluted waters, severely degrading water quality and killing aquatic life.

You can see where the sediments have settled down around coppices of riverside ghost willows, choking the roots and killing them where they stand. Their spindly stalks are brittle and bleached, two heads high and shining matte silver on shores punctuated with anemic green shrubs. Where especially high metal concentrations have congregated, plant life is absent entirely.
Photo by Fotolia/siimsepp