Although mine operations generally involve a small area, their local impact on biodiversity can be quite intense. All forms of open-pit mining, sand mining and quarrying totally destroy the local habitat. Slag and water-table disturbances and stream pollution from underground mining are also widespread and may be equally destructive. For example, when pyrite (iron disulphide) is brought to the surface during the mining of coal and metal ores it is oxidized to sulphuric acid, which in turn mobilizes heavy metals. This acid mine waste can cause localized pollution, and through catchment runoff can pollute entire streams and rivers.
In many countries, coastal areas, river basins and land generally is subject to quarrying of sand and gravel for concrete, aggregate for roads and clay for production of bricks. Many national governments and local authorities are currently licensing exploitation of these raw materials for revenue-collecting purposes. They are seldom concerned with the appropriateness of the use to which such land is put. For example, in some countries areas have been licensed for clay or stone quarrying at the expense of the agricultural and livestock sector.