What is mining like

By | 04.01.2018

The answer is mining. One of the most common analogies that people use for Bitcoin is that it’s like mining gold. Just like the precious metal, there is only a limited amount (there will only ever be 21 million bitcoin) and the more that you take out, the more difficult and resource intensive it is to find. What you should know about before searching for a mining job, to Know Before Searching for a Mining Job. your profile and the kind of job you would like to. What’s it like to live on a mine site? Living in a mining camp has pros and cons. We talk about what to expect and tips for success.
I am not a miner per se but a mining engineering undergrad who is going to try his best to provide an Indian perspective on this matter. There are two kinds of mines- opencast (OC) and underground (UG). The question seems to target the underground category, so I'll explain that in more detail. Oct 24, 2017 · A mining pool or Bitcoin mining pool like CEX.io is a collection of miners working together to reduce the volatility of their returns. The answer is mining. One of the most common analogies that people use for Bitcoin is that it’s like mining gold. Just like the precious metal, there is only a limited amount (there will only ever be 21 million bitcoin) and the more that you take out, the more difficult and resource intensive it is to find. What you should know about before searching for a mining job, to Know Before Searching for a Mining Job. your profile and the kind of job you would like to. What’s it like to live on a mine site? Living in a mining camp has pros and cons. We talk about what to expect and tips for success.

Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. Historically, mining booms have also encouraged immigration to Australia. Many different ores and minerals are mined throughout the country.


Mining contributed significantly to preventing potential bankruptcy for the early colonies in Australia. Silver and later copper were discovered in South Australia in the 1840s, leading to the export of ore and the immigration of skilled miners and smelters. The first economic minerals in Australia were silver and lead ubuntu for mining nvidia February 1841 at Glen Osmond, now a suburb of Adelaide in South Australia. Mines including Wheal Gawler and Wheal Watkins opened soon after.[1] The value of these mines was soon overshadowed by the discovery of copper at Kapunda (1842),[2]Burra (1845)[3] and in the Copper Triangle (Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo) area at the top of Yorke Peninsula (1861).[4]

Gold what is mining like article: Australian gold rushes

In 1851, gold was found near Ophir, New South Wales. Weeks later, gold was found in the newly established colony of Victoria. Australian gold rushes, in particular the Victorian Gold Rush, had a major lasting impact on Victoria, and on Australia as a whole. The influx of wealth that gold brought soon made Victoria Australia's richest colony by far, and Melbourne the island's largest city. By the middle of the 1850s, 40% of the world's gold was produced in Australia.[5]

Australia's population changed dramatically as a result of the gold rushes: in 1851 the population was 437,655 and a decade later it was 1,151,957; the rapid growth was predominantly a result of the new chums (recent immigrants from the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth states) who contributed the 'rush'.[6] Although most Victorian goldfields were exhausted by the end of the 19th century, and although much of the profit was sent back to the UK, sufficient wealth remained to fund substantial development of industry and infrastructure.


Australia has mining activity in all of operations manager mining states and territories. The Minerals Council of Australia estimates that 0.02% of Australia's land surface is directly impacted by mining.[7]

Particularly significant areas today include the Goldfields, Peel and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, the Hunter Region in New South Wales, the Bowen Basin in Queensland and Latrobe Valley in Victoria and various parts of the outback. Places such as Kalgoorlie, Mount Isa, Mount Morgan, Broken Hill and Coober Pedy are known as mining towns.

Major active mines in Australia include:

For a more comprehensive list of mines in Australia, see Mines in Australia

Minerals and resources[edit]

Large quantities of minerals and resources :

  • Iron ore – Australia was the world's second largest supplier in 2015 after China, supplying 824 million metric tonnes, 25% of the world's output.[8]
  • Nickel – Australia was the world's fourth largest producer in 2015, producing 9% of world output.[9]
  • Aluminium – Australia was the world's largest producer of bauxite in 2015 (29% of world production), and the second largest producer of alumina after China.[10]
  • Copper – Australia was the world's 5th largest producer in 2015[11]
  • Gold – Australia is the second largest producer after China, producing 287.3 metric tonnes in 2016, 9.2% of the world's output.[12]
  • Silver – In 2015 Australia was the fourth largest producer, producing 1,700 metric tonnes, 6% of the world's output.[13]
  • Uranium – Australia is responsible for 11% of the world's production and was the world's third largest producer in 2010 after Kazakhstan and Canada.[14]
  • Diamond – Australia has the third largest commercially viable deposits after Russia and Botswana.[citation needed] Australia also boasts the richest diamantiferous pipe with production reaching peak levels of 42 metric tons (41 LT/46 ST) per year in the 1990s.[citation needed]
  • Opal – Australia is the world's largest producer of opal, being responsible for 95% of production.[15]
  • Zinc – Australia was second only to China in zinc production in 2015, producing 1.58 million tonnes, 12% of world production.[16]
  • Coal – Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal and fourth largest producer of coal behind China, USA and India.[17]
  • Oil shale – Australia has the sixth largest defined oil shale resources.[18]
  • Petroleum – Australia is the twenty-ninth largest producer of petroleum.[citation needed]
  • Natural gas – Australia is world's third largest producer of LNG and forecast to be world leader by 2020.
  • Silica
  • Rare earth elements – In 2015 Australia was the second largest producer wmzona mining China, with 8% of the world's output.[19]

Much of the raw material mined in Australia is exported overseas to countries such as China for processing into refined product. Energy and minerals constitute two-thirds of Australia's total exports to China, and more than half of Australia's what is mining like ore exports are to China.[20]

Statistical chart of Australia's major mineral resources[21][edit]

Australia ranks among the top 5 in proven reserves for 22 primary industrial minerals, more than any other nation.

Units of measurement: t = tonne; kt = kilotonne (1,000 t); Mt = million tonne (1,000,000 t); Mc = million carat (1,000,000 c)

Statistics are from data gathered in December 2015

MineralUnit of








% of World







% of World


Years of Reserves

at Current

Production Rate

Antimonykt content159483.76243
BauxiteMt ore6,02122280.912974
Coal, BlackMt61,42851053948114
Coal, Brown (lignite)Mt66,43922465.4381,016
Cobaltkt content1,0332156.255167
CopperMt content88.75212.976591
Diamond (industrial)Mc20913013.622415
Goldt content9,5161172782934
Iron oreMt ore51,54512881122564
LeadMt content35.29140.6521454
Lithiumkt content1,61041114.3141113
ManganeseMt ore2332177.531631
NickelMt content18.8124.2354980
Rare Earth ElementsMt ore3.4433.142925
Silverkt content88.682151.376565
Tinkt content434497.27360

(Ilmenite & Rutile)

Mt ore177.42201.27210140
Tungstenkt content403212.3512.401,151
Uraniumkt content1,2171295.6439216
Vanadiumkt content1,80241200NANA
ZincMt content62.581311.6121239
ZirconMt ore48.2167.6013180

Coal mining[edit]

Main article: Coal in Australia

Coal is mined in every state of Australia. It is used to generate electricity and is exported. 54% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported, rising to 261 million tonnes of exports in 2008–09.[17] Coal also provides about 85% of Australia's electricity production.[22] Australia is the world's leading coal exporter.[23]

Uranium mining[edit]

Main article: Uranium mining in Australia

Uranium mining in Australia began in the early 20th century in South Australia. Australia contains 23% of the world's proven estimated uranium reserves. In recent decades opposition to uranium mining in Australia has increased, resulting in many government inquiries into its extraction. The three largest uranium mines in the country are Olympic Dam, Ranger Uranium Mine and Beverley Uranium Mine. Future production is expected from Honeymoon Uranium Mine and the planned Four Mile uranium mine.

See also: Uranium mining controversy in Kakadu National Park

Natural gas[edit]

Based on 2008 CSIRO report, Australia estimated to have stranded gas reserves with about 140 trillion cubic feet or enough to fulfil the needs of a city with one million people for 2,800 years.[24]

Entrepreneurs and magnates[edit]

Main article: Australian mining entrepreneurs

At various stages in the history of the mining industry in Australia, individual mining managers, directors and investors have gained significant wealth and the subsequent publicity. In most cases the individuals are designated Mining Magnates or Australian mining entrepreneurs.


A number of large multinational mining companies including BHP Billiton, Newcrest, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Chalco, Shenhua (a Chinese mining company), Alcan and Xstrata operate in Australia. There are also a lot of small mining and mineral exploration companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Overall, the resources sector represents almost 20% of the ASX market by capitalisation, and almost one third of the companies listed.[25]

Mining contributes about 5.6% of Australia's Gross Domestic Product. This is up from only 2.6% in 1950, but down from over 10% at the time of federation in 1901.[26] In contrast, mineral exports contribute around 35% of Australia's exports. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal (35% of international trade), iron ore, lead, diamonds, rutile, zinc and zirconium, second largest of gold and uranium, and third largest of aluminium.[27] Japan was the major purchaser of Australian mineral exports in the mid-1990s.[5]

Of the developed countries, perhaps only Canada and Norway have mining as such a significant part of the economy; for comparison, in Canada mining represents about 3.6% of the Canadian economy and 32% of exports,[28] and in Norway mining, dominated by petroleum, represents about 19% of GDP and 46% of exports.[29] By comparison, in the United States mining represents only about 1.6% of GDP.[30]

Despite its export importance, the mining sector employs only a small proportion of the workforce – roughly 129,000 Australians, representing only about 2.2% of the total labour force.[31]

Technology and services[edit]

Australia's high labour costs and first-world safety regulations, distinctive geology, and the importance placed on mining research by successive governments and businesses has meant that the Australian mining sector is quite technologically advanced.[citation needed] A large proportion of mines worldwide make use of Australian-developed computer software, such as specialised Geological Database and Resource Estimation Modelling software by Micromine and geology/mine planning software by RungePincockMinarco and Maptek Pty Ltd.[citation needed] Australia is also home to other tech companies that offer mine planning software, such as Paradyn. Mines in Australia are leading the market globally[according to whom?] deploying mine production data management software such as Corvus developed by Intov8 Pty Ltd, which displays real-time production data from multiple source systems on dashboards, and includes comprehensive dynamic analysis and reporting, driving process and cost efficiencies at the shift level. Caterpillar's proprietary end-to-end mine management and information management system, MineStar, is also developed in its Brisbane office. Australia's mining services, equipment, and technology exports are over $2 billion annually.[32]

The world first large scale remote operations centre for operation of the Rio Tinto mines in the Pilbara is located in the airport precinct in Perth – operating mines sites, ports, rail and logistics from a central remote location.


Many mines in remote areas have a traditional company town (for example Roxby Downs or Leigh Creek), or support towns that used to be company towns such as Broken Hill and Mount Isa.

Most mines in remote areas are operated on a fly-in-fly-out basis where the miners' "home" and family remains in a major city, and the miners fly out to their mine for two weeks of 12 hours a what is mining like solid work, then fly home for one week of rest.[citation needed] The rosters vary from company to company and from site to site. Every site has people on different rosters, mainly due to the fact that many aspects of a whole mine operation are carried out by contracting companies and they may / will offer different working conditions. 3 weeks on / 1 week off rosters are not uncommon and the working away period can be, but seldom is, for much longer than 2 or 3 weeks.

However, in recognition of the stresses and strains that "fly in fly out" rosters can often put upon the miners' social and family life, and in an attempt to retain staff for the medium to long term, rosters of 9 days work followed by 5 days off ("9 & 5") and 8 days work with 6 off ("8 & 6") are becoming more widespread. A fly-in-fly-out roster is normal on offshore oil platforms,(not least because people cannot live there permanently, unlike many onshore mining towns ) as well as minesites located inland of Australia, such as Century, Challenger, Bronzewing and Yandicoogina minesites.

Free meals and motel style accommodation are provided as is any work related transport, including air fares. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are consumed and collected from the mess hall at the mining camp. Living quarters provided at camp sites range from 2 by 4-metre portable homes to permanent 6 by 8-metre rooms with ensuites. Fridges, single beds, television, electricity and water are also provided with rooms. Every camp has a bar facility and a gym, most have swimming pools and some have outdoor sports courts / fields too.

Environment and politics[edit]

Mining has created major economic benefits for the country, but has also had a substantial environmental impact in some areas of Australia. Historically, the Victorian gold rush was the start of the economic growth of the country, leading to major increases in population. However, it also resulted in deforestation, consequent erosion, and pollution in the areas that were mined.[33] The effects on the landscape near Bendigo and Ballarat can still be seen today. Queenstown, Tasmania's mountains were also completely denuded through a combination of logging and pollution from a mine smelter, and remain bare today. It is estimated that 10 million hectares of land have been affected throughout the history of mining in Australia.[7] Because Australia's mines are distributed across varying climates the knowledge gained from one mine's restoration does not easily extrapolate to other sites.[7]

Uranium mining has been controversial, partly for its alleged environmental impact but more so because of its end uses in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The Australian Labor Party, one of Australia's two major parties, maintains a policy of "no new uranium mines". As of 2006, the increased world demand for uranium has seen some pressure, both internally and externally on the ALP, for a policy change.[34] Australia is a participant in international anti-proliferation efforts designed to ensure that no exported uranium is used in nuclear weapons.[35]

Mining disasters[edit]

New Australian Gold Mine[edit]

Creswick in the Victorian goldfields was the site of The New Australasian No.2 Deep Lead Gold Mine. At bitcoin mining reward, Tuesday 12 December 1882, 29 miners became trapped underground by flood waters that came from the flooded parallel-sunk No.1 mine shaft, only five men survived and made it to the surface. Despite two days of frantic pumping the waters filled the mine shaft. The trapped men scrawled last notes to their loved ones on billy cans before they drowned. Some of these have been kept and still bear the messages. The men that perished left 17 widows and 75 dependent children.[36]

Mount Kembla[edit]

In 1883 a coal mine was opened near Mount Kembla in the Illawarra District of New South Wales. In 1902 there was an explosion in the mine and 96 men and boys lost their lives, either while at work or in the course of trying to save the lives of others. Every family in the village lost a relative. A service of commemoration is held annually on 31 July at the Mount Kembla Soldiers' and Miners' Memorial Church. This is the worst mining disaster in Australia's history.[37]

Balmain Colliery[edit]

Balmain Colliery was located in Birchgrove, New South Wales and produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945. During this period, 10 miners lost their lives in three separate incidents:

1900 On 17 March 1900, six miners were being lowered down the Birthday shaft. At 1,424 feet the bucket they were travelling in caught on a projection, tipped over and five of the six men fell to their death in the shaft. As a result of this accident, the Mining Act was amended to provide guide rails in shafts to prevent bucket swinging or overturning.[38]

1932 In 1932, a year after the mine closed, a six-inch bore was sunk below the Birthday shaft to pipe Natural Gas to the surface. During the sinking of the bore, two men were killed when the gas ignited and exploded.[38]

1945 During the sealing of the Birthday shaft on 20 April 1945, a rudimentary test was being undertaken which ignited escaping gas and caused an explosion below the seal. The company manager and two men were killed in the accident and another two men injured.[38]

North Mount Lyell[edit]

On 12 October 1912, the North Mount Lyell Fire caused the death of 42 miners, and required breathing apparatus to be transported from Victorian mines at great speed, to rescue trapped miners. The subsequent royal commission was inconclusive as to the cause

Mount What is mining like 1921 Mount Mulligan mine disaster occurred in Far North Queensland. The coal dust explosion killed seventy-five men.


Four serious accidents have occurred at mines in the Central Queensland town of Moura. The first accident took the lives of 13 men in September 1975. In July 1986 there was an explosion at Moura Number 4 Mine. 12 coal miners lost their lives in this disaster that sparked controversy after experts claimed the accident was avoidable. Another explosion killed two men in January 1994 and just eight months later another explosion deep underground took the lives of 11 men.[39]


On 26 June 2000, at the Bronzewing Gold Mine in Western Australia (400 kilometres from Kalgoorlie), 18,000 cubic metres of sand-slurry, sludge, mud and rock broke through a storage wall. Two men (Timothy Lee Bell, 21, Shane Hamill, 45) were killed and eight escaped the 'accident'. It took over a month to retrieve the men from the site.


Main article: Beaconsfield mine collapse

On 25 April 2006, part of an underground gold mine at Beaconsfield in Tasmania collapsed. One miner, Larry Knight, was killed by the rock fall, and two others, Brant Webb and Todd Russel, were trapped, leading to a rescue mission that took two weeks to get them out alive.


1887 At 2.30 pm on 23 March 1887, an explosion at the mine in Bulli in New South Wales killed 81 people.[40] A special commission was set up to investigate the explosion and concluded:

.that the explosion was caused by marsh gas or carbonic hydrate that had accumulated at the face. That the immediate cause was probably the flame from an overcharged shot fired by a miner in the coal in No. 2 Heading.

This gas explosion propagated a coal dust explosion and travelled towards the fresh air at the surface. The commission was also of the opinion that the Deputy, Overman and to a lesser extent the Manager, were all guilty of contributing negligence.[41]

1965 On 9 November 1965, a pocket of gas ignited in a panel several hundred yards from the main shaft and killed four miners. Ten mining rescue teams and the Southern Mines Rescue Station worked all night to extinguish the fire.[42]

Box Flat Mine[edit]

At the Box Flat Mine in Swanbank, South East Queensland, 17 miners were lost after an underground gas explosion occurred on 31 July 1972.[43] Another man died later from injuries sustained in the explosion. The mine tunnel mouths were what is mining like and the mine closed shortly after.[43]

Australian mining in literature, art and film[edit]

  • Henry Lawson, His Father's Mate from While The Billy Boils, 1896 (short story)
  • Nickel Queen, based on the Western Australian nickel boom of the late 1960s
  • Colin Thiele, The Fire in the Stone (book which became a film)
  • Wendy Richardson, Windy Gully 1989 Currency Press (play)
  • Conal Fitzpatrick, Kembla- The Book of Voices 2002 Kemblawarra Press (poetry) ISBN 0-9581287-0-7
  • Henry Handel Richardson, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony: Australia Felix Takes place in the chaos of the early Ballarat goldrush.
  • Richard Lowenstein, Strikebound (1984 film).
  • Tim Burstall, The Last of the Knucklemen (1979 film, based on the play by John Power, who also wrote a novelisation of the film).
  • Kriv Stenders, Red Dog (2011 film, based on the true story).

See also[edit]


Adults employed in the mining industry as a percentage of the adult population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, as of the 2011 census
Broken Hill, What is mining like, one of Australia's iconic mining towns, backed by the man-made mullock heaps from the Line of Lode
Australia mined gold production, 1960–2012
Australian metal ore and mineral quarterly exports ($A millions) since 1969.
Australian coal, coke and briquette quarterly exports ($A millions) since 1969.
Mining Employment by Sector in 1000's
Total employment in metal ore mining (thousands of people) since 1984
Total employment in coal mining (thousands of people) since 1984
Total employment what is mining like oil and gas extraction (thousands of people) since 1984
The town of Mount Isa is surrounded by vast mineral deposits.
Memorial for the workers who lost their lives at Mount Kembla, 1902
  1. ^"The Glen Osmond Mines". South Australian History. Flinders Ranges Research. Retrieved 5 June 2006. 
  2. ^"Kapunda". South Australian History. Flinders Ranges Research. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  3. ^"Burra". South Australian History, what is mining like. Flinders Ranges Research, what is mining like. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  4. ^"The Moonta Mine". South Australian History, what is mining like. Flinders Ranges Research. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  5. ^ abSharieff, Afzal; Masood Ali Khan; A Balakishan (2007). Encyclopedia of World Geography: Volume 23, Australia and its Geography. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons. pp. 13–14. ISBN 81-7625-773-7. 
  6. ^Caldwell, J. C. (1987). "Chapter 2: Population". In Wray Vamplew (ed.). Australians: Historical Statistics. Broadway, New South Wales, Australia: Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates. pp. 23 and 26. ISBN 0-949288-29-2. 
  7. ^ abcGrant, Carl (2013). "State-and-Transition Models for Mining Restoration in Australia". In Suding, Katharine N.; Hobbs, Richard J, what is mining like. New Models for Ecosystem Dynamics and Restoration. Peter Society for Ecological Restoration International. p. 280. ISBN 9781610911382. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  8. ^Tuck, Christopher A. (28 January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016"(pdf). Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Usb mining devices. pp. 90–91. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  9. ^Kuck, Peter H. (28 January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries – Nickel"(PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  10. ^Bray, E. Lee (January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries – Bauxite and Alumina"(PDF). United States Geological Survey. pp. 32–33. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  11. ^Brininstool, Mark (January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries – Copper"(PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  12. ^"Gold Mining Map and Gold Production in 2016 – World Gold Council". gold.org. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  13. ^George, Micheal W. (28 January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016"(pdf). Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey. pp. 152–153. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  14. ^"World Uranium Mining". World Nuclear Association. September 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  15. ^"Minerals: Opal". Primary Industries and Resources South Australia. 20 August 2010. What is mining like 7 September 2010. 
  16. ^Tolcin, Amy C. (28 January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016"(pdf), what is mining like. Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey. pp. 192–193. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  17. ^ ab"The Australian Coal Industry – Coal Exports", what is mining like. Australian Coal Association. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  18. ^"Oil shale in the world". Enefit. Amman, Jordan. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  19. ^Gambogi, Joseph (28 January 2016). "Mineral Commodity Summaries 2016"(pdf). Reston, VA: U.S. Geological Survey. pp. 134–135. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  20. ^The Hon De-Anne Kelly MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade (3 May 2006). "Speech at the Australia China Business Council, what is mining like, Queensland Branch Business Dinner". Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2006. 
  21. ^"Australia's Identified Mineral Reserves 2016"(PDF). 
  22. ^"The Importance of Coal in the Modern World – Australia". Gladstone Centre for Clean Coal. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2007.

Mining - Wikipedia

What’s it like to live on a mine site? Living in a mining camp has pros and cons. We talk about what to expect and tips for success. What's it like to be a coal miner? Update Cancel. It's very similar to working on certain fields and later become an expert in any specific field of mining. ethereum / wiki. Code. Issues 149. So what is mining anyway? Ethereum Frontier, like all blockchain technologies uses an incentive-driven model of security. Mining in Canada. Canada's mining industry has come a long way since coal was first discovered on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, nearly 350 years ago. Now, there are approximately 800 mining operations in Canada. Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to the public ledger, known as the block chain, and also the means through which new bitcoin are released. Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in . Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. Historically, mining booms have also encouraged immigration to Australia. Many different ores and minerals are mined throughout the country.

Mining in Canada. Canada's mining industry has come a long way since coal was first discovered on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, nearly 350 years ago. Now, there are approximately 800 mining operations in Canada. Oct 24, 2017 · A mining pool or Bitcoin mining pool like CEX.io is a collection of miners working together to reduce the volatility of their returns. Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. Historically, mining booms have also encouraged immigration to Australia. Many different ores and minerals are mined throughout the country.

"Underground mining" redirects here. For other uses, see Underground mining (soft rock) and Underground mining (hard rock).

For other uses, see Mining (disambiguation).

Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an orebody, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposits. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.

Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, chalk, dimension stone, rock salt, potash, gravel, and clay. Mining is required to obtain any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water.

Mining of stones and metal has been a human activity since pre-historic times. Modern mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysis of the profit potential of a proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation of the land after the mine is closed.[citation needed]

Mining operations usually create a negative environmental impact, both during the mining activity and after the mine has closed. Hence, most of the world's nations have passed regulations to decrease the impact. Work safety has long been a concern as well, and modern practices have significantly improved safety in mines.

Levels of metals recycling are generally low. Unless future end-of-life recycling rates are stepped up, some rare metals may become unavailable for use in a variety of consumer products. Due to the low recycling rates, some landfills now contain higher concentrations of metal than mines themselves.


Prehistoric mining[edit]

Since the beginning of civilization, people have used stone, ceramics and, later, metals found close to the Earth's surface. These were used to make early tools and weapons; for example, high quality flint found in northern France, southern England and Poland was used to create flint tools.[1] Flint mines have been found in chalk areas where seams of the stone were followed underground by shafts and galleries. The mines at Grimes Graves and Krzemionki are especially famous, and like most other flint mines, are Neolithic in origin (ca 4000–3000 BC). Other hard rocks mined or collected for axes included the greenstone of the Langdale axe industry based in the English Lake District.

The oldest-known mine on archaeological record is the "Lion Cave" in Swaziland, which radiocarbon dating shows to be about 43,000 years old. At this site Paleolithic humans mined hematite to make the red pigmentochre.[2][3] Mines of a similar age in Hungary are believed to be sites where Neanderthals may have mined flint for weapons and tools.[4]

Ancient Egypt[edit]

Ancient Egyptians mined malachite at Maadi.[5] At first, Egyptians used the bright green malachite stones for ornamentations and pottery. Later, between 2613 and 2494 BC, large building projects required expeditions abroad to the area of Wadi Maghareh in order to secure minerals and other resources not available in Egypt itself.[6] Quarries for turquoise and copper were also found at Wadi Hammamat, Tura, Aswan and various other Nubian sites on the Sinai Peninsula and at Timna.[6]

Mining in Egypt occurred in the earliest dynasties. The gold mines of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive of any in Ancient Egypt. These mines are described by the Greek author Diodorus Siculus, who mentions fire-setting as one method used to break down the hard rock holding the gold. One of the complexes is shown in one of the earliest known maps. The miners crushed the ore and ground it to a fine powder before washing the powder for the gold dust.

Ancient Greek and Roman mining[edit]

Further information: Mining in Roman Britain

Mining in Europe has a very long history. Examples include the silver mines of Laurium, which helped support the Greek city state of Athens. Although they had over 20,000 slaves working them, their technology was essentially identical to their Bronze Age predecessors.[7] At other mines, such as on the island of Thassos, marble was quarried by the Parians after they arrived in the 7th Century BC.[8] The marble was shipped away and was later found by archaeologists to have been used in buildings including the tomb of Amphipolis. Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, captured the gold mines of Mount Pangeo in 357 BC to fund his military campaigns.[9] He also captured gold mines in Thrace for minting coinage, eventually producing 26 tons per year.

However, it was the Romans who developed large scale mining methods, especially the use of large volumes of water brought to the minehead by numerous aqueducts. The water was used for a variety of purposes, including removing overburden and rock debris, called hydraulic mining, as well as washing comminuted, or crushed, ores and driving simple machinery.

The Romans used hydraulic mining methods on a large scale to prospect for the veins of ore, especially a now-obsolete form of mining known as hushing. They built numerous aqueducts to supply water to the minehead. There, the water stored in large reservoirs and tanks. When a full tank was opened, the flood of water sluiced away the overburden to expose the bedrock underneath and any gold veins. The rock was then worked upon by fire-setting to heat the rock, which would be quenched with a stream of water. The resulting thermal shock cracked the rock, enabling it to be removed by further streams of water from the overhead tanks. The Roman miners used similar methods to work cassiterite deposits in Cornwall and lead ore in the Pennines.

The methods had been developed by the Romans in Spain in 25 AD to exploit large alluvial gold deposits, the largest site being at Las Medulas, where seven long aqueducts tapped local rivers and sluiced the deposits. Spain was one of the most important mining regions, but all regions of the Roman Empire were exploited. In Great Britain the natives had mined minerals for millennia,[10] but after the Roman conquest, the scale of the operations increased dramatically, as the Romans needed Britannia's resources, especially gold, silver, tin, and lead.

Roman techniques were not limited to surface mining. They followed the ore veins underground once opencast mining was no longer feasible. At Dolaucothi they stoped out the veins and drove adits through bare rock to drain the stopes. The same adits were also used to ventilate the workings, especially important when fire-setting was used. At other parts of the site, they penetrated the water table and dewatered the mines using several kinds of machines, especially reverse overshot water-wheels. These were used extensively in the copper mines at Rio Tinto in Spain, where one sequence comprised 16 such wheels arranged in pairs, and lifting water about 24 metres (79 ft). They were worked as treadmills with miners standing on the top slats. Many examples of such devices have been found in old Roman mines and some examples are now preserved in the British Museum and the National Museum of Wales.[11]

Medieval Europe[edit]

Main article: Mining and metallurgy in medieval Europe

Mining as an industry underwent dramatic changes in medieval Europe. The mining industry in the early Middle Ages was mainly focused on the extraction of copper and iron. Other precious metals were also used, mainly for gilding or coinage. Initially, many metals were obtained through open-pit mining, and ore was primarily extracted from shallow depths, rather than through deep mine shafts. Around the 14th century, the growing use of weapons, armour, stirrups, and horseshoes greatly increased the demand for iron. Medieval knights, for example, were often laden with up to 100 pounds (45 kg) of plate or chain link armour in addition to swords, lances and other weapons.[12] The overwhelming dependency on iron for military purposes spurred iron production and extraction processes.

The silver crisis of 1465 occurred when all mines had reached depths at which the shafts could no longer be pumped dry with the available technology.[13] Although an increased use of bank notes, credit and copper coins during this period did decrease the value of, and dependence on, precious metals, gold and silver still remained vital to the story of medieval mining.

Due to differences in the social structure of society, the increasing extraction of mineral deposits spread from central Europe to England in the mid-sixteenth century. On the continent, mineral deposits belonged to the crown, and this regalian right was stoutly maintained. But in England, royal mining rights were restricted to gold and silver (of which England had virtually no deposits) by a judicial decision of 1568 and a law in 1688. England had iron, zinc, copper, lead, and tin ores. Landlords who owned the base metals and coal under their estates then had a strong inducement to extract these metals or to lease the deposits and collect royalties from mine operators. English, German, and Dutch capital combined to finance extraction and refining. Hundreds of German technicians and skilled workers were brought over; in 1642 a colony of 4,000 foreigners was mining and smelting copper at Keswick in the northwestern mountains.[14]

Use of water power in the form of water mills was extensive. The water mills were employed in crushing ore, raising ore from shafts, and ventilating galleries by powering giant bellows. Black powder was first used in mining in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia) in 1627.[15] Black powder allowed blasting of rock and earth to loosen and reveal ore veins. Blasting was much faster than fire-setting and allowed the mining of previously impenetrable metals and ores.[16] In 1762, the world's first mining academy was established in the same town there.

The widespread adoption of agricultural innovations such as the iron plowshare, as well as the growing use of metal as a building material, was also a driving force in the tremendous growth of the iron industry during this period. Inventions like the arrastra were often used by the Spanish to pulverize ore after being mined. This device was powered by animals and used the same principles used for grain threshing.[17]

Much of the knowledge of medieval mining techniques comes from books such as Biringuccio’s De la pirotechnia and probably most importantly from Georg Agricola's De re metallica (1556). These books detail many different mining methods used in German and Saxon mines. A prime issue in medieval mines, which Agricola explains in detail, was the removal of water from mining shafts. As miners dug deeper to access new veins, flooding became a very real obstacle. The mining industry became dramatically more efficient and prosperous with the invention of mechanical and animal driven pumps.

Classical Philippine civilization[edit]

See also: Cultural achievements of pre-colonial Philippines

Mining in the Philippines began around 1000 BC. The early Filipinos worked various mines of gold, silver, copper and iron. Jewels, gold ingots, chains, calombigas and earrings were handed down from antiquity and inherited from their ancestors. Gold dagger handles, gold dishes, tooth plating, and huge gold ornamets were also used.[18] In Laszlo Legeza's "Tantric elements in pre-Hispanic Philippines Gold Art", he mentioned that gold jewelry of Philippine origin was found in Ancient Egypt.[18] According to Antonio Pigafetta, the people of Mindoro possessed great skill in mixing gold with other metals and gave it a natural and perfect appearance that could deceive even the best of silversmiths.[18] The natives were also known for the jewelries made of other precious stones such as carnelian, agate and pearl. Some outstanding examples of Philippine jewelry included necklaces, belts, armlets and rings placed around the waist.

The Americas[edit]

There are ancient, prehistoric copper mines along Lake Superior, and metallic copper was still found there, near the surface, in colonial times. [19][20][21]

Indigenous peoples availed themselves of this copper starting at least 5,000 years ago,"[19] and copper tools, arrowheads, and other artifacts that were part of an extensive native trade network have been discovered. In addition, obsidian, flint, and other minerals were mined, worked, and traded.[20] Early French explorers who encountered the sites[clarification needed] made no use of the metals due to the difficulties of transporting them,[20] but the copper was eventually traded throughout the continent along major river routes.

In the early colonial history of the Americas, "native gold and silver was quickly expropriated and sent back to Spain in fleets of gold- and silver-laden galleons,"[22] the gold and silver originating mostly from mines in Central and South America. Turquoise dated at 700 AD was mined in pre-Columbian America; in the Cerillos Mining District in New Mexico, estimates are that "about 15,000 tons of rock had been removed from Mt. Chalchihuitl using stone tools before 1700."[23][24]

Mining in the United States became prevalent in the 19th century, and the General Mining Act of 1872 was passed to encourage mining of federal lands.[25] As with the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, mining for minerals and precious metals, along with ranching, was a driving factor in the Westward Expansion to the Pacific coast. With the exploration of the West, mining camps were established and "expressed a distinctive spirit, an enduring legacy to the new nation;" Gold Rushers would experience the same problems as the Land Rushers of the transient West that preceded them.[26] Aided by railroads, many traveled West for work opportunities in mining. Western cities such as Denver and Sacramento originated as mining towns.

When new areas were explored, it was usually the gold (placer and then lode) and then silver that were taken into possession and extracted first. Other metals would often wait for railroads or canals, as coarse gold dust and nuggets do not require smelting and are easy to identify and transport.[21]

Modern period[edit]

In the early 20th century, the gold and silver rush to the western United States also stimulated mining for coal as well as base metals such as copper, lead, and iron. Areas in modern Montana, Utah, Arizona, and later Alaska became predominate suppliers of copper to the world, which was increasingly demanding copper for electrical and households goods.[27] Canada's mining industry grew more slowly than did the United States' due to limitations in transportation, capital, and U.S. competition; Ontario was the major producer of the early 20th century with nickel, copper, and gold.[27]

Meanwhile, Australia experienced the Australian gold rushes and by the 1850s was producing 40% of the world's gold, followed by the establishment of large mines such as the Mount Morgan Mine, which ran for nearly a hundred years, Broken Hill ore deposit (one of the largest zinc-lead ore deposits), and the iron ore mines at Iron Knob. After declines in production, another boom in mining occurred in the 1960s. Now, in the early 21st century, Australia remains a major world mineral producer.[28]

As the 21st century begins, a globalized mining industry of large multinational corporations has arisen. Peak minerals and environmental impacts have also become a concern. Different elements, particularly rare earth minerals, have begun to increase in demand as a result of new technologies.

Mine development and lifecycle[edit]

The process of mining from discovery of an ore body through extraction of minerals and finally to returning the land to its natural state consists of several distinct steps. The first is discovery of the ore body, which is carried out through prospecting or exploration to find and then define the extent, location and value of the ore body. This leads to a mathematical resource estimation to estimate the size and grade of the deposit.

This estimation is used to conduct a pre-feasibility study to determine the theoretical economics of the ore deposit. This identifies, early on, whether further investment in estimation and engineering studies is warranted and identifies key risks and areas for further work. The next step is to conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the financial viability, the technical and financial risks, and the robustness of the project.

This is when the mining company makes the decision whether to develop the mine or to walk away from the project. This includes mine planning to evaluate the economically recoverable portion of the deposit, the metallurgy and ore recoverability, marketability and payability of the ore concentrates, engineering concerns, milling and infrastructure costs, finance and equity requirements, and an analysis of the proposed mine from the initial excavation all the way through to reclamation. The proportion of a deposit that is economically recoverable is dependent on the enrichment factor of the ore in the area.

To gain access to the mineral deposit within an area it is often necessary to mine through or remove waste material which is not of immediate interest to the miner. The total movement of ore and waste constitutes the mining process. Often more waste than ore is mined during the life of a mine, depending on the nature and location of the ore body. Waste removal and placement is a major cost to the mining operator, so a detailed characterization of the waste material forms an essential part of the geological exploration program for a mining operation.

Once the analysis determines a given ore body is worth recovering, development begins to create access to the ore body. The mine buildings and processing plants are built, and any necessary equipment is obtained. The operation of the mine to recover the ore begins and continues as long as the company operating the mine finds it economical to do so. Once all the ore that the mine can produce profitably is recovered, reclamation begins to make the land used by the mine suitable for future use.

Mining techniques[edit]

Mining techniques can be divided into two common excavation types: surface mining and sub-surface (underground) mining. Today, surface mining is much more common, and produces, for example, 85% of minerals (excluding petroleum and natural gas) in the United States, including 98% of metallic ores.[29]

Targets are divided into two general categories of materials: placer deposits, consisting of valuable minerals contained within river gravels, beach sands, and other unconsolidated materials; and lode deposits, where valuable minerals are found in veins, in layers, or in mineral grains generally distributed throughout a mass of actual rock. Both types of ore deposit, placer or lode, are mined by both surface and underground methods.

Some mining, including much of the rare earth elements and uranium mining, is done by less-common methods, such as in-situ leaching: this technique involves digging neither at the surface nor underground. The extraction of target minerals by this technique requires that they be soluble, e.g., potash, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, which dissolve in water. Some minerals, such as copper minerals and uranium oxide, require acid or carbonate solutions to dissolve.[30][31]

Surface mining[edit]

Main article: Surface mining

Surface mining is done by removing (stripping) surface vegetation, dirt, and, if necessary, layers of bedrock in order to reach buried ore deposits. Techniques of surface mining include: open-pit mining, which is the recovery of materials from an open pit in the ground, quarrying, identical to open-pit mining except that it refers to sand, stone and clay;[32]strip mining, which consists of stripping surface layers off to reveal ore/seams underneath; and mountaintop removal, commonly associated with coal mining, which involves taking the top of a mountain off to reach ore deposits at depth. Most (but not all) placer deposits, because of their shallowly buried nature, are mined by surface methods. Finally, landfill mining involves sites where landfills are excavated and processed.[33] Landfill mining has been thought of as a solution to dealing with long-term methane emissions and local pollution[34]

Underground mining[edit]

Main articles: Underground mining (hard rock) and Underground mining (soft rock)

Sub-surface mining consists of digging tunnels or shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits. Ore, for processing, and waste rock, for disposal, are brought to the surface through the tunnels and shafts. Sub-surface mining can be classified by the type of access shafts used, the extraction method or the technique used to reach the mineral deposit. Drift mining utilizes horizontal access tunnels, slope mining uses diagonally sloping access shafts, and shaft mining utilizes vertical access shafts. Mining in hard and soft rock formations require different techniques.

Other methods include shrinkage stope mining, which is mining upward, creating a sloping underground room, long wall mining, which is grinding a long ore surface underground, and room and pillar mining, which is removing ore from rooms while leaving pillars in place to support the roof of the room. Room and pillar mining often leads to retreat mining, in which supporting pillars are removed as miners retreat, allowing the room to cave in, thereby loosening more ore. Additional sub-surface mining methods include hard rock mining, which is mining of hard rock (igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary) materials, bore hole mining, drift and fill mining, long hole slope mining, sub level caving, and block caving.

Highwall mining[edit]

Highwall mining is another form of surface mining that evolved from auger mining. In Highwall mining, the coal seam is penetrated by a continuous miner propelled by a hydraulic Pushbeam Transfer Mechanism (PTM). A typical cycle includes sumping (launch-pushing forward) and shearing (raising and lowering the cutterhead boom to cut the entire height of the coal seam). As the coal recovery cycle continues, the cutterhead is progressively launched into the coal seam for 19.72 feet (6.01 m). Then, the Pushbeam Transfer Mechanism (PTM) automatically inserts a 19.72-foot (6.01 m) long rectangular Pushbeam (Screw-Conveyor Segment) into the center section of the machine between the Powerhead and the cutterhead. The Pushbeam system can penetrate nearly 1,000 feet (300 m) into the coal seam. One patented Highwall mining system uses augers enclosed inside the Pushbeam that prevent the mined coal from being contaminated by rock debris during the conveyance process. Using a video imaging and/or a gamma ray sensor and/or other Geo-Radar systems like a coal-rock interface detection sensor (CID), the operator can see ahead projection of the seam-rock interface and guide the continuous miner's progress. Highwall mining can produce thousands of tons of coal in contour-strip operations with narrow benches, previously mined areas, trench mine applications and steep-dip seams with controlled water-inflow pump system and/or a gas (inert) venting system.


Heavy machinery is used in mining to explore and develop sites, to remove and stockpile overburden, to break and remove rocks of various hardness and toughness, to process the ore, and to carry out reclamation projects after the mine is closed. Bulldozers, drills, explosives and trucks are all necessary for excavating the land. In the case of placer mining, unconsolidated gravel, or alluvium, is fed into machinery consisting of a hopper and a shaking screen or trommel which frees the desired minerals from the waste gravel. The minerals are then concentrated using sluices or jigs.

Large drills are used to sink shafts, excavate stopes, and obtain samples for analysis. Trams are used to transport miners, minerals and waste. Lifts carry miners into and out of mines, and move rock and ore out, and machinery in and out, of underground mines. Huge trucks, shovels and cranes are employed in surface mining to move large quantities of overburden and ore. Processing plants utilize large crushers, mills, reactors, roasters and other equipment to consolidate the mineral-rich material and extract the desired compounds and metals from the ore.


Main articles: Mineral processing and Extractive metallurgy

Once the mineral is extracted, it is often then processed. The science of extractive metallurgy is a specialized area in the science of metallurgy that studies the extraction of valuable metals from their ores, especially through chemical or mechanical means.

Mineral processing (or mineral dressing) is a specialized area in the science of metallurgy that studies the mechanical means of crushing, grinding, and washing that enable the separation (extractive metallurgy) of valuable metals or minerals from their gangue (waste material). Processing of placer ore material consists of gravity-dependent methods of separation, such as sluice boxes. Only minor shaking or washing may be necessary to disaggregate (unclump) the sands or gravels before processing. Processing of ore from a lode mine, whether it is a surface or subsurface mine, requires that the rock ore be crushed and pulverized before extraction of the valuable minerals begins. After lode ore is crushed, recovery of the valuable minerals is done by one, or a combination of several, mechanical and chemical techniques.

Since most metals are present in ores as oxides or sulfides, the metal needs to be reduced to its metallic form. This can be accomplished through chemical means such as smelting or through electrolytic reduction, as in the case of aluminium. Geometallurgy combines the geologic sciences with extractive metallurgy and mining.

Environmental effects[edit]

Main article: Environmental impact of mining

Environmental issues can include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil, groundwater and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. In some cases, additional forest logging is done in the vicinity of mines to create space for the storage of the created debris and soil.[35] Contamination resulting from leakage of chemicals can also affect the health of the local population if not properly controlled.[36] Extreme examples of pollution from mining activities include coal fires, which can last for years or even decades, producing massive amounts of environmental damage.

Mining companies in most countries are required to follow stringent environmental and rehabilitation codes in order to minimize environmental impact and avoid impacting human health. These codes and regulations all require the common steps of environmental impact assessment, development of environmental management plans, mine closure planning (which must be done before the start of mining operations), and environmental monitoring during operation and after closure. However, in some areas, particularly in the developing world, government regulations may not be well enforced.

For major mining companies and any company seeking international financing, there are a number of other mechanisms to enforce good environmental standards. These generally relate to financing standards such as the Equator Principles, IFC environmental standards, and criteria for Socially responsible investing. Mining companies have used this oversight from the financial sector to argue for some level of industry self-regulation.[37] In 1992, a Draft Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations was proposed at the Rio Earth Summit by the UN Centre for Transnational Corporations (UNCTC), but the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) together with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) argued successfully for self-regulation instead.[38]

This was followed by the Global Mining Initiative which was begun by nine of the largest metals and mining companies and which led to the formation of the International Council on Mining and Metals, whose purpose was to "act as a catalyst" in an effort to improve social and environmental performance in the mining and metals industry internationally.[37] The mining industry has provided funding to various conservation groups, some of which have been working with conservation agendas that are at odds with an emerging acceptance of the rights of indigenous people – particularly the right to make land-use decisions.[39]

Certification of mines with good practices occurs through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). For example, ISO 9000 and ISO 14001, which certify an "auditable environmental management system", involve short inspections, although they have been accused of lacking rigor[clarification needed].[37]:183–4 Certification is also available through Ceres' Global Reporting Initiative, but these reports are voluntary and unverified. Miscellaneous other certification programs exist for various projects, typically through nonprofit groups.[37]:185–6

The purpose of a 2012 EPS PEAKS paper[40] was to provide evidence on policies managing ecological costs and maximise socio-economic benefits of mining using host country regulatory initiatives. It found existing literature suggesting donors encourage developing countries to:

  • Make the environment-poverty link and introduce cutting-edge wealth measures and natural capital accounts.
  • Reform old taxes in line with more recent financial innovation, engage directly with the companies, enacting land use and impact assessments, and incorporate specialised support and standards agencies.
  • Set in play transparency and community participation initiatives using the wealth accrued.


Ore mills generate large amounts of waste, called tailings. For example, 99 tons of waste are generated per ton of copper,[41] with even higher ratios in gold mining - because only 5.3 g of gold is extracted per ton of ore, a ton of gold produces 200,000 tons of tailings.[42] (As time goes on and richer deposits are exhausted - and technology improves to permit - this number is going down to .5 g and less.) These tailings can be toxic. Tailings, which are usually produced as a slurry, are most commonly dumped into ponds made from naturally existing valleys.[43] These ponds are secured by impoundments (dams or embankment dams).[43] In 2000 it was estimated that 3,500 tailings impoundments existed, and that every year, 2 to 5 major failures and 35 minor failures occurred;[44] for example, in the Marcopper mining disaster at least 2 million tons of tailings were released into a local river.[44] In central Finland, Talvivaara Terrafame polymetal mine waste effluent since 2008 and numerous leaks of saline mine water has resulted in ecological collapse of nearby lake[45]. Subaqueous tailings disposal is another option.[43] The mining industry has argued that submarine tailings disposal (STD), which disposes of tailings in the sea, is ideal because it avoids the risks of tailings ponds; although the practice is illegal in the United States and Canada, it is used in the developing world.[46]

The waste is classified as either sterile or mineralised, with acid generating potential, and the movement and storage of this material forms a major part of the mine planning process. When the mineralised package is determined by an economic cut-off, the near-grade mineralised waste is usually dumped separately with view to later treatment should market conditions change and it becomes economically viable. Civil engineering design parameters are used in the design of the waste dumps, and special conditions apply to high-rainfall areas and to seismically active areas. Waste dump designs must meet all regulatory requirements of the country in whose jurisdiction the mine is located. It is also common practice to rehabilitate dumps to an internationally acceptable standard, which in some cases means that higher standards than the local regulatory standard are applied.[44]

Renewable energy and mining[edit]

Many mining sites are remote and not connected to the grid. Electricity is typically generated with diesel generators. Due to high transportation cost and theft during transportation the cost for generating electricity is normally high. Renewable energy applications are becoming an alternative or amendment. Both solar and wind power plants can contribute in saving diesel costs at mining sites. Renewable energy applications have been built at mining sites.[47] Cost savings can reach up to 70%.[48]

Mining industry[edit]

Main articles: List of mines, List of mining companies, Category:Mining companies, and Category:Mining industry by country

Mining exists in many countries. London is known as the capital of global "mining houses" such as Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton, and Anglo American PLC.[49] The US mining industry is also large, but it is dominated by the coal and other nonmetal minerals (e.g., rock and sand), and various regulations have worked to reduce the significance of mining in the United States.[49] In 2007 the total market capitalization of mining companies was reported at US$962 billion, which compares to a total global market cap of publicly traded companies of about US$50 trillion in 2007.[50] In 2002, Chile and Peru were reportedly the major mining countries of South America.[51] The mineral industry of Africa includes the mining of various minerals; it produces relatively little of the industrial metals copper, lead, and zinc, but according to one estimate has as a percent of world reserves 40% of gold, 60% of cobalt, and 90% of the world's platinum group metals.[52]Mining in India is a significant part of that country's economy. In the developed world, mining in Australia, with BHP Billiton founded and headquartered in the country, and mining in Canada are particularly significant. For rare earth minerals mining, China reportedly controlled 95% of production in 2013.[53]

While exploration and mining can be conducted by individual entrepreneurs or small businesses, most modern-day mines are large enterprises requiring large amounts of capital to establish. Consequently, the mining sector of the industry is dominated by large, often multinational, companies, most of them publicly listed. It can be argued that what is referred to as the 'mining industry' is actually two sectors, one specializing in exploration for new resources and the other in mining those resources. The exploration sector is typically made up of individuals and small mineral resource companies, called "juniors", which are dependent on venture capital. The mining sector is made up of large multinational companies that are sustained by production from their mining operations. Various other industries such as equipment manufacture, environmental testing, and metallurgy analysis rely on, and support, the mining industry throughout the world. Canadian stock exchanges have a particular focus on mining companies, particularly junior exploration companies through Toronto's TSX Venture Exchange; Canadian companies raise capital on these exchanges and then invest the money in exploration globally.[49] Some have argued that below juniors there exists a substantial sector of illegitimate companies primarily focused on manipulating stock prices.[49]

Mining operations can be grouped into five major categories in terms of their respective resources. These are oil and gas extraction, coal mining, metal ore mining, nonmetallic mineral mining and quarrying, and mining support activities.[54] Of all of these categories, oil and gas extraction remains one of the largest in terms of its global economic importance. Prospecting potential mining sites, a vital area of concern for the mining industry, is now done using sophisticated new technologies such as seismic prospecting and remote-sensing satellites. Mining is heavily affected by the prices of the commodity minerals, which are often volatile. The 2000s commodities boom ("commodities supercycle") increased the prices of commodities, driving aggressive mining. In addition, the price of gold increased dramatically in the 2000s, which increased gold mining; for example, one study found that conversion of forest in the Amazon increased six-fold from the period 2003–2006 (292 ha/yr) to the period 2006–2009 (1,915 ha/yr), largely due to artisanal mining.[55]

Corporate classifications[edit]

Mining companies can be classified based on their size and financial capabilities:

  • Major companies are considered to have an adjusted annual mining-related revenue of more than US$500 million, with the financial capability to develop a major mine on its own.
  • Intermediate companies have at least $50 million in annual revenue but less than $500 million.
  • Junior companies rely on equity financing as their principal means of funding exploration. Juniors are mainly pure exploration companies, but may also produce minimally, and do not have a revenue exceeding US$50 million.[56]

Regulation and governance[edit]

New regulations and a process of legislative reforms aim to improve the harmonization and stability of the mining sector in mineral-rich countries.[57] New legislation for mining industry in African countries still appears to be an issue, but has the potential to be solved, when a consensus is reached on the best approach.[58] By the beginning of the 21st century the booming and increasingly complex mining sector in mineral-rich countries was providing only slight benefits to local communities, especially in given the sustainability issues. Increasing debate and influence by NGOs and local communities called for a new approahes which would also include disadvantaged communities, and work towards sustainable development even after mine closure (including transparency and revenue management). By the early 2000s, community development issues and resettlements became mainstream concerns in World Bank mining projects.[58] Mining-industry expansion after mineral prices increased in 2003 and also potential fiscal revenues in those countries created an omission in the other economic sectors in terms of finances and development. Furthermore, this highlighted regional and local demand for mining revenues and an inability of sub-national governments to effectively use the revenues. The Fraser Institute (a Canadian think tank) has highlighted[clarification needed] the environmental protection laws in developing countries, as well as voluntary efforts by mining companies to improve their environmental impact.[59]

In 2007 the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was mainstreamed[clarification needed] in all countries cooperating with the World Bank in mining industry reform.[58] The EITI operates and was implemented with the support of the EITI multi-donor trust fund, managed by the World Bank.[60] The EITI aims to increase transparency in transactions between governments and companies in extractive industries[61] by monitoring the revenues and benefits between industries and recipient governments. The entrance process is voluntary for each country and is monitored by multiple stakeholders including governments, private companies and civil society representatives, responsible for disclosure and dissemination of the reconciliation report;[58] however, the competitive disadvantage of company-by company public report is for some of the businesses in Ghana at least, the main constraint.[62] Therefore, the outcome assessment in terms of failure or success of the new EITI regulation does not only "rest on the government's shoulders" but also on civil society and companies.[63]

On the other hand, implementation has issues; inclusion or exclusion of artisanal mining and small-scale mining (ASM) from the EITI and how to deal with "non-cash" payments made by companies to subnational governments. Furthermore, the disproportionate revenues the mining industry can bring to the comparatively small number of people that it employs,[64] causes other problems, like a lack of investment in other less lucrative sectors, leading to swings in government revenuebecause of volatility in the oil markets. Artisanal mining is clearly an issue in EITI Countries such as the Central African Republic, D.R. Congo, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – i.e. almost half of the mining countries implementing the EITI.[64] Among other things, limited scope of the EITI involving disparity in terms of knowledge of the industry and negotiation skills, thus far flexibility of the policy (e.g. liberty of the countries to expand beyond the minimum requirements and adapt it to their needs), creates another risk of unsuccessful implementation. Public awareness increase, where government should act as a bridge between public and initiative for a successful outcome of the policy is an important element to be considered.[65]

World Bank[edit]

The World Bank has been involved in mining since 1955, mainly through grants from its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with the Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency offering political risk insurance.[66] Between 1955 and 1990 it provided about $2 billion to fifty mining projects, broadly categorized as reform and rehabilitation, greenfield mine construction, mineral processing, technical assistance, and engineering. These projects have been criticized, particularly the Ferro Carajas project of Brazil, begun in 1981.[67] The World Bank established mining codes intended to increase foreign investment; in 1988 it solicited feedback from 45 mining companies on how to increase their involvement.[37]:20

In 1992 the World Bank began to push for privatization of government-owned mining companies with a new set of codes, beginning with its report The Strategy for African Mining. In 1997, Latin America's largest miner Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) was privatized. These and other developments such as the Philippines 1995 Mining Act led the bank to publish a third report (Assistance for Minerals Sector Development and Reform in Member Countries

Sulfur miner with 90 kg of sulfur carried from the floor of the Ijen Volcano (2015)
Simplified world active mining map
Gallery, 12th to 13th century, Germany
View showing miners’ clothes suspended by pulleys, also wash basins and ventilation system, Kirkland Lake, Ontario, 1936.
Mantrip used for transporting miners within an underground mine
Caterpillar Highwall Miner HW300 - Technology Bridging Underground and Open Pit Mining
A Bucyrus Erie 2570 dragline and CAT 797 haul truck at the North Antelope Rochelle opencut coal mine
Iron hydroxide precipitate stains a stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining.

WHAT MINING OF SCIENCE Areas of data mining
Institute of mining 182

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