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Fundamentals of Mining

This lecture will help you understand: • • • • Mineral resources and their contributions to society Mining methods Social and environmental impacts of mining Sustainable use of mineral resources .

specific chemical composition. so we need to be aware of their finite and decreasing supplies . and distinct physical properties Minerals are nonrenewable.Minerals and mining • We extract raw minerals from beneath our planet’s surface – Turn them into products we use everyday • Rock and resources from the lithosphere contribute to our economies and lives • Rock = a solid aggregation of minerals • Mineral = a naturally occurring solid chemical element or inorganic compound – It has a crystal structure.

Minerals are everywhere in our products .

and groundwater • Mining = in relation to minerals. fossil fuels. it is the extraction of any resource that is nonrenewable – We mine minerals. soil. it is the systematic removal of rock. concentrated sources must be found before mining . or other material to remove the minerals of economic interest • Because minerals occur in low concentrations.We obtain minerals by mining • We obtain minerals through the process of mining • Mining = in the broad sense.

processed into tantalum.We extract minerals from ores • Metal = an element that is lustrous. aluminum Tantalite ore is mined. and used in electronic devices . iron. opaque. lead. and malleable and can conduct heat and electricity • Ore = a mineral or grouping of minerals from which we extract metals • Economically valuable metals include copper. gold.

rock is crushed and the metals are isolated by chemical or physical means – The material is processed to purify the metal • Alloy = a metal is mixed.We process metals after mining ore • Most minerals must be processed after mining • After mining the ore. melted. or fused with another metal or nonmetal substance – Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon • Smelting = heating ore beyond its melting point then combining it with other metals or chemicals .

finding places where ores occur • Mine exploration & development.carry mineral to market • Marketing & sales.find buyers & sell the mineral .extract ore from ground • Beneficiation.Steps in Obtaining Mineral Commodities • Prospecting.extract pure mineral from ore mineral (get the good stuff out of waste rock) • Transportation.learn whether ore can be extracted economically • Mining.separate ore minerals from other mined rock • Smelting & refining.

Life Cycle of a Mineral Resource Surface mining Metal ore Separation of ore from gangue Smelting Melting metal Recycling Conversion to product Discarding of product .

Less environmental damage) • Dissolution: potash. Hazardous for miners.Extraction process depend on shape. position and value of ore body • Surface Mining (Cheap. Large amount of environmental destruction) – Open Pit – Strip Mining • Underground Mine (Expensive. uranium. Safe for miners. • In situ mobilization: oil shale • Heap Leach .

The amount of waste rock to be removed to provide reasonable gradient for trucks. e. Ekati Diamond Mine Overlaying material is removed using large equipment Creates pits that are hundreds of meters wide and hundreds of meters deep. Only efficient for large ore bodies close to the surface Can be useful for dumping mine waste at closure . c. at its zenith 400000 tons of rock per day a.Open Pit Mining Bingham Canyon Cu Mine 4 km in diameter 1 km in depth. d. b.

Same environmental damage c. Very efficient for high level flat lying ore bodies d. Like open pit but not as deep of a pit b.Strip Mining a. Overburden and top soil can be replaced minimizing environmental damage .

Entry into underground mines is by vertical shafts. b. c. Long wall (coal). Block Caving etc. . or by a sloping tunnel. or gemstones are too far underground to get out with surface mining.Underground Mining a. d. but has the least impact environmentally on the earth’s surface. Very expensive and the most dangerous of the three methods. Some types of UG Mining – Room and Pillar. minerals. Underground mining is done when the rocks. Shrinkage Stoping. Cut and Fill.

oil shale NaCl or KCl dissolved in water Acid in situ leach of metallic ore Hot water or steam used to mobilize sulfur or oil . uranium In situ mobilization: sulfur.Dissolution: potash.

CN Heap Leach Gold Mine 1979-1996 . Montana.Heap Leach Landusky.

Steep slopes are slow to re-vegetate (succession happens slowly. causes high sediment runoff in watersheds.cheap & easysusceptible to erosion. arsenic. washes dissolved metals & toxic material into water sources. Loss of biodiversity in the area Abandoned mines can still pose safety hazards such as deadly gases . – 4FeS2 + 14H2O = 4Fe(OH)3 + 8H2SO4 Water leaking into mine shafts.mine tailings (mining waste) Loss of topsoil in strip-mined regions Spoil banks are where holes were filled in with waste. pyrite) in tailings. chemical weathering.g. mercury) in mine tailings.no topsoil) Contamination of soil or water from heavy metals (e. Contamination from sulfuric acid (H2SO4) produced through weathering of iron sulfide (FeS2.Mining and environmental issues • • • • • • • • • • • Gaping holes in ground (old open pit mines) Accidental draining of rivers and lakes Disruption of ground water flow patterns Piles of gangue.

If mining will cause quality deterioration of either surface water or groundwater.The mine plan must include all the technical measures necessary to handle all the environmental problems from initial data gathering to the mine closure and reclamation of the disturbed surface area. . remedial and treatment measures must be developed to meet discharge standards.Mining and environmental issues Minimizing the impact: . .

remelt & reshape waste scrap iron & steel. Cost comparison: $225-$480 per metric ton while regular steel mills cost $1425-$2250 per metric ton. alloys that reduce weight & cost. iron. gold. lead. lead.How can we conserve geologic resources? • Recycling – • Saves energy • Recycling aluminum cans requires 1/20th the energy than extracting aluminum from bauxite (aluminum ore) • Only 2/3 of aluminum actually recycled – Reduces need for mining which reduces overall environmental impact – Minimills becoming more common. bronze age. steel Substituting New Materials for Old – History: Stone age. increase fuel efficiency in cars . iron age – Plastic PVC instead of copper. polymers. – Ex: platinum (catalytic converters). silver. steel pipes – Fiber optic technology and satellite communication reduces the need for copper telephone wires – Steel replaced by aluminum. copper.

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