Mining is defined as a technique that involves extracting geological materials or valuable minerals from the earth. These minerals are located within lodes, orebodies, veins, reefs or seams.
There are several mining techniques commonly used worldwide to collect valuable materials. Surface mining is a technique that involves stripping all surface dirt and vegetation down to layers of bedrock, ultimately reaching buried ore deposits. Surface mining is one of the most common forms of mining techniques. In fact, this technique produces approximately 98-percent of metallic ores and 85-percent of minerals. This figure does not include natural gas and petroleum.
Mining generally focuses on two significant categories, which includes placer deposits and lode deposits. The former includes minerals that are often found in beach sands, river gravels and other types of unconsolidated materials. The latter includes minerals found in veins that are usually found in rocks. Both of these deposits are often mined by underground and surface methods.
Underground mining involves using extraction methods that help reach deep into the earth’s mineral deposits. This form of mining includes drift mining, slope mining and shaft mining. Mining different types of rocks, whether it’s hard or soft rock requires different mining techniques.
The machinery used in mining is extremely heavy-duty, designed to explore through hard rock and layers of the earth’s surface. This mining equipment is designed to cut through hard, tough rocks, helping to process valuable ore. Whether it’s explosives, bulldozers, drills or trucks, all of this equipment is necessary for running an efficient, successful mine.
Placer mining is when minerals and waste gravel feed into machinery and a screen helps to separate debris from valuable minerals. These minerals are usually concentrated using jigs or sluices. Large drills are designed to help sink shafts, obtain samples and excavate large slopes. Trams help to transport waste, minerals and even miners, trams help to move equipment through a deep mine.
Processing minerals after extraction is also known as extractive metallurgy. This area of science focuses solely on extracting valuable metals from ores, using both mechanical and chemical processes.
Mineral processing involves crushing ore, thoroughly grinding it and washing it, which helps to enable separation. Most metals are present within ores as sulfides or oxides, which means that the metal itself requires reduction to its original metallic form. This may be accomplished through electrolytic reduction or smelting, which is generally the process through which aluminum is extracted.
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