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The El Chino Mine located near Silver City, New Mexico is an open-pit copper mine
The El Chino Mine located near Silver City, New Mexico is an open-pit copper mine
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually (but not always) from an ore body, vein, or (coal) seam. Materials recovered by mining include bauxite, coal, diamonds, iron, precious metals, lead, limestone, nickel, phosphate, rock salt, tin, and uranium. Any material that cannot be grown from agricultural processes must be mined. Mining in a wider sense can also include extraction of petroleum, natural gas, and even water.

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Contents

History
Steps in the Mining Process
Mining techniques
Extractive metallurgy
Environmental effects
Mining industry
Mine Planning Software



History - Contents

The oldest known mine in the archaeological record is the "Lion Cave" in Swaziland. At this site, which has a radiocarbon age of 43,000 years, paleolithic humans mined for the iron-containing mineral hematite, which they ground to produce the red pigment ochre. Sites of a similar age where Neanderthals may have mined flint for weapons and tools have been found in Hungary.Another early mining operation was the turquoise mine operated by the ancient Egyptians at Wady Maghareh on the Sinai Peninsula. Turquoise was also mined in pre-Columbian America in the Cerillos Mining District in New Mexico, where a mass of rock 200 feet (60 m) in depth and 300 feet (90 m) in width was removed with stone tools; the mine dump covers 20 acres (81,000 m²).Black gun powder in mining was first used in a mineshaft under Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia in 1627.


Steps in the Mining Process - Contents

  1. Prospecting to locate ore
  2. Exploration to defining the extent and value of ore where it was located
  3. A feasibility study to make a decision as whether to develop or abandon a proposed mine
  4. Development to create access to an ore body
  5. Exploitation to extract ore on a large scale
  6. Reclamation to make land where a mine had been suitable for future use



Mining techniques - Contents

Mining techniques can be divided into two basic excavation types:
1. Surface mining
  • Open-pit mining
  • Quarrying
  • Strip mining
  • Placer mining
  • Mountaintop removal
2. Sub-surface mining
  • Drift mining
  • Slope mining
  • Shaft mining
  • Hard rock mining
  • Borehole mining



Extractive metallurgy - Contents

The science of extractive metallurgy is the study of extraction of valuable metals and minerals from their ores. Although extractive metallurgy is all-encompassing, mineral processing (or mineral dressing) is often the term used for the study of processing coal, industrial minerals and precious stones, as these are not metals.


Environmental effects - Contents

Iron hydroxide precipitate stains a stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining.
Iron hydroxide precipitate stains a stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining.
Several million dollars annually are spent on the environmental effects of these tailing ponds at Climax, Colorado, even though the molybdenum mine has  been closed for decades.
Several million dollars annually are spent on the environmental effects of these tailing ponds at Climax, Colorado, even though the molybdenum mine has been closed for decades.
Modern mining companies in many countries are required to follow strict environmental and rehabilitation codes, ensuring the area mined is returned to its original state, or an even better environmental state than before mining took place. Past mining methods have had, and methods used in countries with lax environmental regulations continue to have, devastating environmental and public health effects. The result can be unnaturally high concentrations of some chemical elements over a significantly wider area of surface. Combined with the effects of water and the new 'channels' created for water to travel through, collect in, and contact with these chemicals, a situation is created where mass-scale contamination can occur.Environmental issues can also include erosion, formation of sinkholes, dangerous sites such as deep holes in child friendly communities, destruction of the environment, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of groundwaters by chemicals from the mining process and products.Some examples of environmental problems associated with mining operations are:
Ashio Copper Mine, Ashio, Japan was the site of substantial pollution at end of the nineteenth century
Berkeley Lake, an abandoned pit mine in Butte, Montana that has filled with water which is now acidic and poisonous.
Scouriotissa, a copper mine in Cyprus that has been abandoned. Contaminated dust blows off this site.
Tar Creek, an abandoned mining area in Picher, Oklahoma that is now an Environmental Protection Agency superfund site. Water in the mine has leaked through into local groundwater, contaminating it with metals such as lead and cadmium. [1]

Although such issues have been associated with some mining operations in the past, modern mining practices have improved significantly and are subject to close environmental scrutiny.


Mining industry - Contents

While exploration and mining can sometimes be conducted by individual entrepreneurs or small business, most modern-day mines are large enterprises requiring large amounts of capital to establish. Consequently, the industry is dominated by large, often multinational, mostly publicly-listed companies. See Category:Mining companies for a list.


Mine Planning Software - Contents

One of the most dramatic changes in the mining industry has been the role that sophisticated three dimensional 3-D mine planning software packages have had. Initially relatively simple tasks - like rendering graphic images of drill holes - meant that it became easier for surveyors, geologists, mine planners, mining engineers and other technical staff to manipulate and visualize data. However, in recent years the range of integrated mine planning tools have meant that massively complex models can be built to optimize the extraction and processing of mineral resources.
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