We take the materials we use without a second thought.  Take copper for instance.  Not only do many of us love using copper for jewelry, this important metal has many industrial and biomedical uses (see first link below). South African photographer, Dillon Marsh,  has an excellent combination photo series called For What It's Worth which helps us visualize the output of copper from mines and the captures the environmental changes wrought by mining practices.

For What It's Worth
West O'okiep Mine, Okiep (1862 to the early 1970s)
Over 500m deep, 284,000 tonnes of copper extracted

He first took beautiful photographs of 5 famous copper mines in South Africa.  Then using historical extraction data from each mine, he calculated just how large the amount of copper would be if made into a sphere. He then added the correctly scaled computer generated copper spheres into his images.

For What It's Worth
Jubilee Mine, Concordia (1971 to 1973)
Over 100m deep, 6,500 tonnes of copper extracted
 He said, Whether they are active or long dormant, mines speak of a combination of sacrifice and gain. Their features are crude, unsightly scars on the landscape - unlikely feats of hard labor and specialized engineering, constructed to extract value from the earth but also exacting a price.Once these mines were exhausted, the small towns which sprung up near them declined and now face an uncertain future. 

For What It's Worth
Tweefontein Mine, Concordia (1887 to 1904)
Over 100m deep, 38,747.7 tonnes of copper extracted
 Dillon plans to expand his series to include the mines which extract precious metals, gemstones and perhaps coal as well.

For What It's Worth
Nababeep South Mine, Nababeep (1882 to 2000)
Over 500m deep, 302,791.65 tonnes of copper extracted

For What It's Worth
Blue Mine, Springbok (1852 to 1912)
3,535 tonnes of copper extracted
NB. Mining not just changes the landscape but negligent mining practices can be disastrous for the environment. Earlier this month, the tailings pond of the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in British Columbia, Canada was breached and a huge amount of waste water was discharged into the local river and lakes.


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