Mining is the extraction of materials from the earth. Frequently removed from what the mining industry call lodes, veins, seams, reefs or ore bodies and normally considered of value to the mining company. There are hundreds of mining companies all over the world, like Yamana Gold run by CEO Peter Marrone.
Types of Mining
There are several ways to extract such items off or from the earth. They are generally broken down into two types: surface and underground
Surface mining removes vegetation, dirt and layers of bedrock to reach the buried ore deposits or resource that the miner wants to recover. This can be done via open-pit mining, like for sand or gravel, or strip mining. There is also mountaintop removal mining that is usually associated with coal mining.
Underground mining requires the miners to dig tunnels or shafts into the earth in order to reach what they consider valuable and worthwhile to retrieve. Both waste product and material of value come out through those same tunnels and shafts. Underground mining can get further classified by the type of shaft, extraction method or other techniques used to reach the minerals. Hard and soft rock also require different techniques, and tunnels can run sloped, horizontal or vertical depending on the product being mined.
Other names for types of mining are drift mining, slope mining, shaft mining, shrinkage stope, long wall, room and pillar, retreat mining, hard rock mining, bore hole mining, drift and fill, long hole slope, sub level and block caving.
Examples of products include gold, diamonds, coal, oil, precious gems, even gravel and sand. Any type of removal of a non-renewal resource such as petroleum, natural gas and even water is also considered products of mining. Metals are also a frequently mined for item.
Environment and Waste Effects
Environmental issues can include sinkholes, erosion, and contamination of soil and water by chemicals released in the mining processes. There is destruction of forest land when removal of the trees is necessary for the mining efforts.
Mining companies in most countries are required to follow stringent environmental codes and rehabilitate the land after mine closure. There also rules that must be followed to minimize effects on human safety and health. While intentions are good, the rules are not always enforced well, especially in developing countries.
Recycling Saves the Planet and Minimizes the Need for Mining Replenishment
Mining, no matter how well controlled, has toxic effects on the environment and the human condition that are long lasting and in most cases permanent. Do your part to help reduce the carbon footprint by recycling. Metals are inherently recyclable so they can be used over and over again, which also saves energy. For example, 95% of the energy used to make aluminum from bauxite ore is saved by using recycled material. Unfortunately, tracked levels of recycling are low. More needs to be done at every level to utilize this environment and energy saving activity.
Mining serves a great purpose and fills a great need. People like Peter Marrone excel at running profitable companies while still mining safely and responsibly. Everyone doing their part will keep it that way.