MINING ABC

CONTENTS 1. Metals and Minerals 2. Geology 3. Exploration 4. Mining 5. Processing 6. Marketplace 7. Drilling and explosives 8. Mining and Utilization

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ie 1 gram for every 100 tonnes (1 part per 100 million). CaO (5. iron (5%). Elements that are 'workable' (eg malleable) are termed metals (they are also usually good conductors of heat and electricity).000 kilograms in a tonne. so that 1 gram/tonne = 1 ppm. they are called 'mineral deposits' and these become 'ore deposits' when the elements within the mineral can be recovered economically. Note also that if the size of the average stone is 1 carat.1% of the earth's crust). Because of the huge range in the value of diamonds (based on size. gold constitutes less than 0. which are substances that cannot be broken down by chemical or physical action into simpler entities. Diamond grades are typically 5 carat per 100 tonne (the normal 'unit' of measurement).1. eight account for 98% of the composition of the crust (the earth's outer layer. aluminium (8%). and there are four main rock-forming mineral groups: Silicates Oxides Sulphides Carbonates - contain silicon and oxygen the elements bond to oxygen " " " " " " " " sulphur carbon/oxygen.5%) and magnesium (2%). Of the 92 elements. For the less valuable metals (copper.5%). Metals and Minerals The building blocks of the earth are called elements. Note that there are 1. silica (27. then there will only be one stone per 20-tonne truck ! 2 . mainly comprising the carbon element. ie an ore grade of only US$10/tonne in the example above. The search for diamonds is akin to looking for the proverbial 'needle in a haystack'. Al2O3 (15.1%) and FeO (3.0000004% of the earth's crust. These concentrations are usually measured as the proportion of the constituent metal in the overall deposit (this might include several different minerals but the measurement will exclude the surrounding 'waste' rock). Elements bond together in chemical compounds of definite ratios to form solid crystalline substances known as minerals. (Coal is a mineral.7%). By contrast. grades are often given in terms of value. Cu) while the precious metals will be measured in terms of parts per million (eg 6 grams/tonne gold.5%). sodium (3%). A typical mined-diamond value is US$200/carat. calcium (3.) Rock is a solid mass of mineral grains. Mining is usually about the recovery of the 'metal' elements. The most common minerals are all oxides: SiO2 (comprising 59. colour and clarity). Where minerals are sufficiently concentrated (see later).5%). see later): oxygen (46. potassium (2.000 grams in a kilogram and 1.2%). of which there are many thousand different types. lead etc) this is usually measured as a few parts per hundred (eg 3% copper. Au).

NiS) and laterites Lead Zinc Nickel Ferrous Metals In addition to iron itself. it is often said that only one kimberlite pipe in one hundred is diamondiferous. eg: Copper Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) and Chalcocite (Cu2S) Galena (PbS). elemental) state. Precious (Noble) Metals These are resistant to weathering (ie they do not rust) and are usually mined in their native (ie pure. Base Metals So called because they are capable of combining with an acid to form a salt.2H2O) Magnesite (MgCO3) and brines Cassiterite (SnO2) 3 . Metals are often categorised into groups to reflect common usage or properties. eg: Aluminium Magnesium Tin Bauxite (Al2O3. Examples are gold. Anglesite (PbSO4) and Cerusite (PbCO3) Sphalerite (ZnS) and Smithsonite (ZnCO3) Pentlandite (2FeS.As an aside. eg: Chromium Chromite (FeCr2O4) Cobaltite (CoAsS) and Smaltite (CoAs2) Molybdenite (MoS2) Braunite (Mn2O3). silver and the platinum-group metals (PGMs). and only one diamondiferous pipe in a hundred is economic to mine. this category includes those metals that have a strong chemical affinity with iron. Hausmanite (Mn3O4) and Pyrolusite Cobalt Molybdenum Manganese Non-Ferrous Metals These are the metals that have no affinity with iron (and also included the base metals).

or ride above (obduction). surrounded by a zone of heavy rock (the mantle) and a thin outer skin (the crust). eg: Greenockite (CdS). Such movements are often accompanied by the intrusion into the crust of molten rock (magma) from the mantle.000 million years ago. volcanoes and mountain building (and mineralisation). another plate. gas and uranium Diamonds. which is found as a coating on zinc ores. The Earth is believed to comprise a deep interior (the core). Geology The consensus amongst scientists is that our solar system began about 5. The size and position of the plates change over time.TiO2) and Rutile (TiO2) Zircon sand and Baddeleyite Cadmium Mercury Titanium Zirconium Other Mined Minerals These are those valuable minerals that either can not be characterised as metals (eg coal) or where the mineral is used in its mineral form without extracting the metal (eg salt. the most recent of which started 200 million years ago (about the time the first mammals appeared). and is usually mined by-product of base-metal sulphides Native metal and as Cinnabar (HgS) Ilmenite (FeO. and planet Earth formed from a superheated cloud of dust and gas (following the 'Big Bang'). which is sodium chloride): Industrial minerals Energy minerals Gemstones Salt. marble etc Coal. and as these reach the crust the patterns they set up have been instrumental in forming a series of interlocking crustal plates.Speciality Metals These are those metals whose unusual (exotic) properties make them valuable in specific usages. where they move against each other (the so-called mobile belts) are sites of intense geologic activity. Where plates 'collide'. Periods of mountain-building are referred to as orogeny. rubies etc 2. limestone. oil. Plate tectonics is a relatively new theory and has revolutionised the way geologists think about the Earth. Cooling from the core outwards sets up convection currents. The edges of the plates. The 4 . one plate might slide beneath (subduction). such as earthquakes.

'Fossilised' mobile belts are preserved in cratons as Greenstone belts. with evaporates (eg rock salt from sea water) being a particular type. Over millions of years. which are a major source of gold deposits (eg in Western Australia. and. The world's cratons consist entirely of metamorphic rocks. or cratons (also termed shields). Hence a limestone becomes a marble. A present-day example of such hydrothermal activity is in the South Pacific where 'black smokers' on the seafloor are currently depositing metal sulphides along the junction of two tectonic plates. the older rocks form the ancient 'basement'. According to the amount of heat and pressure. Over geological time. These sedimentary rocks fall into two categories: Clastic Fragments brought together by ice. The crust and its plates are subject to constant erosion and the resultant material is re-deposited as sediment in rivers. Metamorphism often remobilises and reconcentrates the contained metals to form new deposits. General Deposit Types 5 . eg granites. Chemical In many areas of the globe. the original sediments can eventually be metamorphosed to schists.magma cools to form igneous rock. sandstone becomes a quartzite. The gold deposits of South Africa's Witwatersrand and the iron-ore deposits in the Pilbara district of Western Australia are examples of sedimentary deposits that have been metamorphosed. water or wind (eg sandstone). shale becomes a slate. Minerals contained in the sediments may accumulate in economic quantities. the Canadian Shield and West Africa). eg basalt. There are broadly two types of igneous rock: Light (felsic) rocks that are rich in silica and aluminium. eg gabbro. giving rise to some of the world's biggest mineral deposits (eg the copper deposits of the Andes). etc. Dark and heavy (mafic) rocks rich in iron and magnesia. sedimentary rocks cover the basement and cratons entirely. Where the magma reaches the surface of the crust it is extruded and cools very quickly as lava to form finegrained volcanic rocks. eventually consolidating into layers or strata – sedimentary rocks. sedimentary rocks are subject to heat and pressure as a result of igneous intrusions. Precipitation of dissolved materials (eg forming limestone). and volcanic/igneous rocks can be metamorphosed to form gneisses. some plates fuse together and new ones form. to form metamorphic rocks. The igneous activity associated with mobile belts is often accompanied by the introduction of hydrothermal fluids rich in minerals. away from the edges of existing plates. lakes and seas. mountain-building activity or the weight of the overlying sediments.

There are also important deposits of nickel laterite (eg in New Caledonia and Cuba). Deposits in igneous rocks can also occur as lenses and pods. The platinum and palladium deposits of the Bushveld complex in southern Africa are of this type. A number of the world's most important deposits of nickel. diamonds and other gemstones). Alluvial deposits are formed where material resulting from weathering and erosion is transported by rivers and streams and re-deposited. and there are vast deposits in Brazil and Guinea. nitrate. They are generally associated with metamorphic terrain. Alluvial deposits are relatively recent in age and are generally unconsolidated. reflecting the pressure and temperature at which they formed as the magma cooled down. They can also be distributed through the rock as fine disseminations and in small quartz veinlets as stockworks (typical of porphyry copper). The mineral must be chemically stable and physically resistant to survive the process (restricting such deposits to precious metals. faults and fissures. is a laterite. they are termed epigenetic. Such deposits tend to be of large size and low grade. Where their deposition is associated with volcanic activity. Where they have been introduced afterwards. Where mineral deposits are formed at the same time as the host rock they are termed syngenetic. and are carried to the surface in kimberlite pipes. from the element carbon). Bauxite. Massive deposits (see below) are of higher grade and consist almost entirely of sulphide minerals. Under certain conditions. they are termed volcanic massive sulphides (VMS). phosphate and rock salt have formed in this fashion. One particular type of mafic rock. is the world's principal source of diamonds. and even fewer have diamond concentrations of economic interest (as noted above). sediments accumulate in large basins. Beneath this zone. Deposit Summary Diamond Pipes: Formed at least 150 km below the surface (where temperatures and pressures are extreme enough to create diamonds. rather than graphite or coal. faults and fissures. copper and platinum occur in mafic rocks (see above) in layered igneous intrusions.Sedimentary deposits can be in the form of lenses and pods. 6 . Laterite deposits are a product of tropical weathering and comprise a mixture of oxide and hydroxide minerals and clays. the ore unaffected by weathering is termed primary (or hypogene). kimberlite. and in fractures. They often possess a surface (or supergene) zone that has been enriched in metals as a result of weathering. These occur throughout the world but very few contain diamonds. The metals occur at distinct horizons. eg warm climate and shallow seas. chromite. often deposited along bedding planes or in fractures. These kimberlite mineral accumulations only become economic when they are brought to the surface by volcanic activity. the chief ore of aluminium. Where deposits associated with volcanic activity are stratified they have been referred to as sedimentary exhalative (sedex) deposits. and minerals become increasingly concentrated as salts as a result of evaporation. Diamonds are formed (from carbon) in the mantle under extreme temperature and pressure. Many of the world's large deposits of potash.

Porphyry: Typical of deposits (especially copper) formed by igneous activity. Massive: Nothing to do with size. The mineral must be chemically stable and physically resistant to survive this process (restricting such deposits to precious metals and gemstones). before a deposit stands any realistic chance of being identified. rather a mineralisation (made up almost entirely of sulphides) that is homogeneous and conforms to the host rock's structure (usually indicating that it was formed at the same time). minerals must group in a sufficient concentration if they are to be economically recovered. This is because the mountain-building activity. These orebodies are relatively easy to understand and mine. They are usually tabular. Although usually narrow and inconsistent (and so hard to identify) they can extend to great depths. Geologists will examine general structural maps (rock types and faulting patterns) before making a decision on where to drill. The deposits are usually large but low grade. in shape. was intense in this early period of the planet's life. the minerals crystallise and sink to the base. or lenslike. 'bonanza'-type discoveries). normally as 'native' metal rather than in a mineral (and are the most likely type of deposit for high-grade. although subsequent leaching and precipitation can form areas of substantially higher grades (supergene enrichment). Placer: Minerals that have been eroded from the primary source and transported (normally by water action) and then deposited in a sedimentary bed. These form the main orebodies for aluminium. which helped concentrate many minerals. and the Proterozoic period of 2. Magmatic: As molten rock cools.Epithermal: Formed by hydrothermal volcanic activity that pushes magma (and the contained minerals) through vents (to form extensive vein systems).6 billion years ago. Lode: Found in Greenstone belts (see above). and form many of the world's great base-metal sulphide deposits.6 billion to 570 million years ago). An important source of gold and silver. Exploration As mentioned above. and suitable locations identified. titanium and chrome). with both the intrusion and host rock being severely fractured. 3. these deposits are an important source of precious metals and cluster around large regional fault zones. with the mineralisation forming veins. especially copper and nickel (and also some oxide deposits of iron. This circumstances that are likely to lead to this process must be understood. The stages of exploration for these various orebodies might include: 7 . Laterites: A deeply weathered mixture of oxide and hydroxide minerals and clays (usually found in the tropics).6 billion to 2. and an increasingly important source of nickel (although recovery of the latter is a still problematic process). Most of the world's mines are centred on the ancient 'shield' rocks of the Precambrian orogeny (comprising the Archaean period of 4.

. . The last such study is called a 'bankable' feasibility study as it is used to secure funding.Probable Reserve Further testing has raised the level of confidence such that initial funding can usually commence. for analysis. Resource .Recovery. Mapping . Infill Drilling . Modelling .Geophysical Surveys . 8 .Various scenarios tested (at different metals prices) to determine if the deposit can be extracted profitably. surface boulders or earth (the latter usually from trenches dug across a prospective area).Indicated Initial drilling has identified that there is mineralisation but the configuration is uncertain.Measured Tonnage has been calculated but drilling not sufficient to be sure of the orebody's continuity. Sampling . depending upon the certainty that the configuration is understood (this is usually a function of the number of drill holes): Evidence suggests that there are Inferred minerals worth investigating. Feasibility Studies .Collection of stream sediments. of either rock chips (at various depths) or cores (collection of the latter is by using diamond-encrusted circular drill bits and core barrels).Evaluation of grades and known structures (often using computer models) to determine the likely deposit configuration. sometimes described as 'Potential'. which are good indications of areas prospective for mineral deposits.Consolidation of the surface expressions into a single plane for better understanding of the likely deposit configuration. There are various classifications for ore deposits.The drilling of extra holes to increasing confidence in the orebody model.Airborne evaluation of magnetic or density anomalies. Drilling . The material is then analysed to test for anomalous concentrations of metals to establish drilling targets.

in turn. Scoops/buckets are used to extract material from shallow water (often man-made lagoons). A high-tech variation of this is undersea mining. Surface mines normally only extend to a depth of about 200 m. This lifting is usually by excavator (electric or hydraulic. Mining There are four main types of mining: dredging. underground mining and insitu mining. Underground Mining Access is via vertical shafts or inclined roadways (adits).rock mining (eg copper and diamonds).Proved Orebody is well understood. Hard-rock surface mining is dominated by drilling/blasting and then lifting of the broken ore either into trucks or onto conveyors for transportation to the processing plant. The mining process is fundamentally different between these soft. 3.. 1. There are usually two access routes (one for men and materials. This latter item will depend on the type of rock and the number of fractures etc. Surface Mining Called 'Open-cast' if soft-rock mining (eg coal or limestone) and 'Open-pit' if hard. The mining process is usually combined with the processing (typically drying and concentration) on a floating barge. and the tonnages and grades established beyond reasonable doubt. where material is sucked from the seafloor (although the only successful application of this todate has been for gem diamonds in shallow waters). 9 . which is anchored in the middle of the lagoon. surface mining. the amount of overburden to be removed and the safe steepness of the wall (ie bench height v width). below which it is usually cheaper to extract the metal from underground. with shovel or backhoe configuration) or front-end loader. The softer rocks can be recovered directly by using very powerful excavators (including the huge bucket-wheel machines). 2. with waste infill behind as they advance) while the latter are oval. will depend on the shape of the orebody. which. The cut-off point will depend on the economies of the two methods. with surface costs being dominated by the ore:waste (stripping) ratio. and one for the ore) for safety and for ease of ventilation (fresh air comes in one and is then exhausted out of the other).and hard-rock operations. Dredging This is a high-volume mining technique for low-value products near a plentiful source of water. 4. The former operations are usually rectangular in general shape (and advance along the seam.

horizontal tunnels are driven to reach the ore deposit. Depending on the mine configuration.Although only still at the research stage. Transportation to the shaft or incline can be by train. Insitu Mining There are two main types of insitu mining. this method involves mining upwards in horizontal slices. This has happened spontaneously in numerous 10 . truck or conveyor. Waste: Although some rock can be stored underground (and is ideally used to provide roof support by grinding it and pumping it back into the excavated areas) most has to be taken to the surface. Ore: This is separated from the waste rock at the earliest opportunity to avoid dilution (which would involve extra cost). Cut and Fill . In contrast. This system is very popular in coal mining. (See end of article for cross-section of an example mine) 4. Solution . 'Run-of-mine' is used to describe the ore as it emerges from the mine.The mineral (which is usually in a relatively narrow seam) is extracted as a face (advancing or retreating) between two parallel roadways.Once at the correct depth. solution and thermal. tunnels into the ore deposit itself are often temporary.Tunnels are driven under the ore deposit and the rock above is fragmented (by drilling/blasting and then the rock collapsing under its own weight) and the material is drawn down through 'ore passes' (see below). Transport for men and materials can be by train. The mineral-rich solution is then pumped back to the surface. and so the support is less substantial. an underground power station without going to the trouble of extracting the coal). machine that cuts slices). it is theoretically possible to burn coal insitu (by creating cracks. Block Caving . There are a multitude of different extraction techniques but the main ones are: Room and pillar . This method lends itself to the use of mechanised extraction. chisel-like.Matrix of excavated rooms with pillars left between them to hold up the roof. truck or man-riding conveyor belts. using shearers (rotating drums with teeth) or plows (a fixed. Thermal . This method is popular for shallow mines where the mineral is thick but of relatively low value (it is a relatively wasteful method as subsequent removal of the pillars is dangerous). Longwall systems (Stoping in hard-rock mining) . the target mineral can be collected directly from ore passes (effectively vertical tunnels used to store rock) or lifted from the floor using load-haul-dump (LHD) vehicles.Suited to irregular ore deposits of high-value minerals. then injecting oxygen and a heat source) and recovering the resultant heat (in effect. These are permanent structures so require strong roof supports (often including 'bolts' into the rock to tie the layers together for strength). with each slice being backfilled (usually with a concrete mix to provide a suitable floor) once the fragmented ore from above has been collected. ie before treatment.Involves the injection of water down drill holes into soluble deposits (most commonly salt).

Xstrata also developed the ISAsmelt high-intensity copper-smelting furnace. and involves treating the ground ore in a bubbling mixture of water and chemical constituents. Classifiers (essentially giant sieves) are used to check particle sizes. eg removing water and waste material. (In these circumstances.) Processing methods include: Carbon in Leach . The technology is used to bypass complex processes by utilising permanent stainless-steel cathodes in electro-winning applications.Patented by Xstrata this process is used in more than 35% of the world's copper refining operations. and smelted in a furnace to create copper matte. Processing The valuable metal needs to be separated from the surrounding gangue (uneconomic) material. The metallic minerals bond with the chemicals (ie they stick and rise to the surface) and can then be skimmed off and the chemicals washed or burnt off. Heap Leach . Oxygen is driven off by electrolytic action (in a refinery) to produce aluminium. Examples of metals-recovery processes include: Mined bauxite is ground and mixed with caustic soda to form slurry. Where the ore has to be transported a considerable distance. ISA Process . Initial stages usually involve crushing (eg Jaw Breakers) and grinding (eg Ball Mills) of the ore to reduce the material to sand and silt sizes. The resultant material can then be subjected to refining and/or smelting processes to improve the product's purity. with the oversize material being recycled. Iron and sulphur impurities are then removed in a converter (heated air is blown through the material) to create blister 11 . with the metal then being recovered from solution by electrolysis. The next stage is normally a series of concentration processes.This process has been used to separate minerals since the early 1920s.Recovery (of gold and silver) from finely-ground ore by simultaneous dissolution and adsorption of the precious metals onto fine carbon in an agitated slurry tank. This process makes handling the ore easier and raises the likelihood of being able to liberate all of the valuable metal elements (and maximising the surface area that will come into contact with subsequent chemical processes).areas (particularly in India) but the difficulty has always come in controlling the burning process. Copper ore is concentrated by grinding and flotation. this concentration will occur at the mine site rather than at the processing operation. Much of this can be done by efficient mining methods so that there is not too much dilution of the ore.Dissolving of copper from the rock by organic solvents. This is treated.The dissolving-out from mined rock of the contained soluble metals by percolating a chemical solution through mounded material. and the alumina trihydrate particles recovered and smelted to form alumina. 5. Flotation . the ore can be transported as slurry via a pipeline. Solvent-extraction Electro-winning (SX-EW) .

000 Waste (Mt) 10.000 coal. The waste material from these processes is usually transported to a tailings dam (although they are sometimes dumped. Zinc concentrates are roasted and the resulting calcine is leached and purified.000 7. for most practical purposes (eg targeted equipment sales). for example.000 5. because of the high proportion of transport costs in the overall price. there are over 8. and the total amount of material extracted has been estimated at over 35.500 metals-producing mines in the world.100 mines in South Africa.copper.000 0 Total (Mt) 15.000 1. and a similar number of coal mines.000 7. stripped from them and then melted in a furnace (with the molten metal being cast in slabs.) There are perhaps 25.000 Mt/y. aggregates are generally consumed close to where they are mined (ie they are not generally traded internationally). there are probably around 2. and 30 are diamond mines. and so generally the retaining walls are built with either the waste product itself or with material that is available locally.000 500 1. 12 . this list can be reduced even further. (On a national scale. 6. Marketplace There are a huge number of mines in the world (for example. There are various types but all are expensive. controversially.000 quarries producing aggregate for construction purposes. there are a total of 1. (Almost 60% of these mines are surface operations. which are usually also larger than underground operations. Also. This is summarised as: Ore (Mt) Metals mines Coal Aggregates Industrial Minerals 5.000 small-scale coal and metals mines in China alone). at sea). and also to their widespread geological occurrence. of which only 400 are metals and coal mines. Electrolyte zinc is deposited on sheets.500 If only 'industrial-scale' operations are included. metals and diamond mines account for almost 90% of the world's total mined output (by value). An estimated 2.000 industrial-minerals mines and up to 100.000 7. which is fire-refined and then electrolytically-refined to produce copper cathodes.000 12.) However.

The coal sector probably accounts for over one-third of all mining-equipment purchases. and is valued at slightly more than ALL metals production combined (see below). ● Half of the world's mine and exploration expenditure is in the Americas. depending on its calorific value etc. The eight most important metals/gems (ranked by the average annual value of mined production over recent years) are: US$ billion pa Aluminium 32 30 (although US$44 billion at current prices) 23 15 10 9 Gold Copper Iron Ore Diamonds Zinc 13 . the value of this output dominates total mine production. and up to US$80 billion on the actual cost of mining and processing. ● The total mining equipment sector is worth around US$50 billion per annum.000 stock exchange-listed exploration and mining companies (almost half of these being in Canada). ● The top ten mining companies produce 25% of the mined production (by value). much of coal output is for consumption in local power stations. However. ● There some 3. At prices varying from US$30 to US$60/t. two-thirds of it being waste. US$150 billion to metals (and gems) and US$100 billion to industrial minerals and aggregates. slightly more on mine construction.600 Mt/y of 'hard' coal.The total value of annual mined production in recent years has averaged US$450 billion.000 Mt of rock is moved every year. Around US$5 billion is spent every year on exploration and mine-feasibility studies. and the sector has nothing like the global media impact and influence of the metals sector. with US$200 billion of this being attributed to coal/lignite. Coal Sector Coal production amounts to around 4. Metals Sector Some 15. Some other statistics: ● Surface mines account for about 80% of all ore and rock extracted. and 900 Mt of lignite.

2 grams and is not to be confused with '24-carat gold'. this total mined amount could fit into a cube with sides of under 21 m.000 drilling projects underway. 800 feasibility studies and 400 mines under construction. and attract significantly more 14 . If juniors discover base metals. transport and trade. Asia and Latin America. Large companies can also take on corporate debt.000 t of this is in identified stocks (one-third being held by Central Banks). they tend either to sell the prospect to a larger company (directly or by being taken over) or develop a mine and sell the mineral at the 'concentrate' stage. 1.Nickel PGMs 6 5 Note that these are MINED values. and so the sector is dominated by large companies. there has only been a total of 175. the US 11% and Australia 10%. say 100.000 exploration licences were awarded in Brazil during 2003.) These diamonds are worth twice as much when cut ('polished') and seven times as much when sold in jewellery (ie almost US$70 billion per annum). however. with South Africa accounting for 14%.) At any one time there are probably 8. with about onethird of this currently being spent on acquisitions. (Note that 11. Gold and diamonds. (The proportion of equity to debt has been rising recently. and this is estimated to represent almost half of the Latin American total.000 prospectors active in the world. if we exclude these people. there are perhaps 20. However. and 100. because of the increased activity of junior companies and the higher level of acquisitions. (Carat = 0. (Note that the prices quoted on the London Metal Exchange often relate to 'four-nines' purity. and is currently around 35:65. Gold production is currently some 2. often split between so-called 'mezzanine' debt (medium risk.99%.500 reserve-definition studies. secured loans). expertise and infrastructure. The metals' industry's annual equity and debt financings are averaging around US$40 billion. Because of its high density (over 19 t/m3).) Most metals require significant processing before they are in a form that can be traded. For example.000 t of gold ever mined (at least as measured going back 25 centuries).000 exploration licences awarded per year worldwide. there are hundreds of thousands of garimpero miners (individuals who respond to 'gold-rush' conditions). ie 99. there are almost 160 Mct of 'rough' (ie uncut) diamonds mined every year. not fabricated values. are relatively simple to mine. However. shareholder loans and debentures) and 'senior' debt (low risk.500 t/y (80 Moz/y). Early stage work requires funding through equity finance (ie offering shares for funding) but later-stage projects can utilise debt finance (ie borrowing cash). which signifies 100% purity.) This requires substantial capital expenditure. Industry Structure (see schematic diagram) In Africa. itself under 25% of the world total.

ton) Blasting strength is a direct function of density. other things being equal.ton) 0.5 lb/s. mainly sedimentary.25 kg/t (0. within the given ranges.6 lb/s.1 lb/s. Button bits normally give higher penetration rates but are more prone to deviation in long holes than cross bits.45 kg/t (0. Rotary drilling is satisfactory for softer rocks.05 kg/t (0.ton) 0.junior companies.5 lb/s.ton) 0. 15 .3.75 kg/t (1. thread reversing and redistributing the rods in the drill string considerably prolong wear life. Typical powder consumption in hard rock: Shaft Sinking Drifting Raising Shrink Stope Cut and Fill O/H Bulk Mining Block Cave U/C Open Pit Cut Open Pit Bench 1. or backfill rock quarries.ton) 0.ton) 0.ton) 0.4 lb/s.8 to 1. Developments in explosive technology make it possible to choose any density desired.25 kg/t (2. Drilling & Explosives Percussion drilling is required for drilling blastholes in rocks with a hardness of 4 or greater on Mohs' scale. To obtain optimum fragmentation and minimum overbreak for stripping hard rock open pits or quarrying rock fill.ton) 0.2 kg/t (0. These are mainly the volcanic rocks. For long-hole drilling.1 to 1.25 kg/t (0.5 lb/s. rod life.3. and equity-market activity.9 kg/t (1.8 lb/s. while for wet ground (slurry or emulsion) it varies from 1.9 lb/s. For hard-rock open-pit mines.ton) 0. the burden between rows can vary from 25 to 40 blasthole diameters. Spacing between holes in a row can vary between 25 and 80 blasthole diameters.5 lb/s. Typical explosives for dry ground (ANFO) may have a blasthole density (specific gravity) of 0. For this reason there are many more press releases on gold and diamonds than their mined value would command compared with the other metals.3 kg/t (0.

Underground haul trucks should have a useful life of 20. LHDs in production service should have a useful life of at least 12. The burden required in an open-pit hard-rock operation is about 25 times the hole diameter for ANFO. and about 30 times for high explosives.25 times the spacing between trim holes. A second one is required at a vertical depth of 400 m. The burden between breast holes and trim holes is 1.the burden should be about 25 times the bench blasthole diameter for ANFO and about 30 times the blasthole diameter for high explosives.000 hours.000 .8 journeyman mechanic or electrician on the payroll for each major unit of mobile equipment in the underground fleet.000 hours per year. and the ANFO ratio is 30:1 and 35:1 for medium and soft rock. respectively. The spacing is 1 to 1.500 hours. 16 .6.4 ms/m (5 ms/ft) of burden. A main workshop facility underground is required when the average mining depth reaches 500 m below surface.5 times the burden and the timing is a minimum of 16. When 'smooth wall' blasting techniques are employed underground. the accepted standard spacing between the trim (perimeter) holes is 15-16 times the hole diameter and the charge in perimeter holes is 1/3 that of the regular blastholes. a satellite workshop is required when the mean mining depth reaches 200 m below surface.000 hours. Maintenance & Utilisation In a trackless mine operating round the clock. LHDs at a shallow mine with ramp entry should have a utilisation of 5. more if they are electric (trolley system). and should have the capacity to handle 10% of the underground fleet. including one rebuild at 7. A longer life can be presumed from LHDs at the high end of the market with onboard diagnostics. there should be 0. With ramp entry.

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