You are on page 1of 22


Legal Issues Canada, USA
Staking a Claim
Type of Ore
Open Pit
Underground Mine
Strip mining
Solution Mining
Heap leach
Separation Techniques
Gravity Separation
Chemical Separation
Mine Safety: The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine
The Mine Act requires that the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety
and Health Administration (MSHA) inspect all mines each year to ensure
safe and healthy work environments for miners.
In addition to setting safety and health standards for preventing hazardous
and unhealthy conditions, MSHA's regulations establish requirements for :
Immediate notification by the mine operator of accidents, injuries,
and illnesses at the mine;
Training programs that meet the requirements of the Mine Act; and
Obtaining approval for certain equipment used in gassy
underground mines.
The Mine Act covers all mine operators and miners throughout the United
States, including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto
Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Trust Territory of
the Pacific Islands.
Mineral Exploration in the USA
The 1872 Mining Law was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Before Custer's Last Stand, it
was passed to promote the development and settlement of publicly-owned lands in the western United

The Case for Mining Law Reform The New York Times, June 23, 2008
On June 17, the generally conservative commissioners of Lincoln County, New Mexico, terrified by the prospect of
a big gold mining operation in the nearby Capitan Mountains, asked the Senate to amend the 1872 mining law to
give local officials some say in the matter. Two days later, Representative Ral Grijalva of Arizona urged the
secretary of the interior to take emergency measures to protect lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon from uranium
mining. And the day after that, three Western governors added their voices to the reform chorus.
Enticed by soaring prices in recent years for gold, silver, copper and uranium, mining companies have been filing
claims at a record clip. But the General Mining Law of 1872, which governs them, is as flimsy as ever.
A relic of the boisterous era of Western expansion, the law gives hard-rock mining precedence over all other uses
of the public lands, including conservation. It demands no royalties and provides minimal environmental
protections. Its legacy, if it can be called that, is a battered landscape of abandoned mines and poisoned streams.
Recent rumblings suggest that mining law reform may be moving from the list of legislative lost causes to reality.
Last fall, the House passed a good bill that would require companies to pay royalties, just as oil and coal
producers do, strengthen environmental safeguards, give local officials a role in decision-making and allow the
interior secretary to veto mines that threaten irreparable harm to the environment.
This leaves matters in the lap of the Senate, where the majority leader, Harry Reid, controls the agenda. Mr. Reid
is a miner's son whose home state of Nevada depends heavily on mining, and it is hard to overstate his lack of
enthusiasm for serious reform.
At the same time, his colleagues have not been putting much pressure on him. Senator Jeff Bingaman's Energy
and Natural Resources Committee has held hearings, and Mr. Bingaman himself strongly favors reform. What Mr.
Bingaman needs to do now is draw up an actual bill, get it approved in committee and ask Mr. Reid to schedule a
That could break the logjam and change a law that has remain unchanged, for the worse, for 136 years
Exploration, Extraction, Environmental Issues, Health and
Safety in Canada is governed by Provincial Acts
e.g. Manitoba Mines and Minerals Act 1996

For Rocks and Minerals the act deals with:

Ownership of mineral rights vs surface rights
Claims and leases of mineral rights
Access to land for prospecting and extraction
Compensation to owner of land
Environmental closure of all mines and quarries is the responsibility
of the company except for aggregate

For Aggregate:
There is a government levy of 10 cents per tonne
Closure of Quarry funded and controlled by Land Management
Branch of Manitoba Department of Energy and Mines
Initially minimal impact:
lines cut through forest
samples of rock, soil, vegetation collected

Mining camps in wilderness areas may leave

refuse/oil drums
Drilling may cause environmental problems
Manitoban bush will soon regrow
Tundra and desert pavements are more vulnerable
Staking a Claim
Includes ore removal, primary crushing and
waste rock removal and disposal.

Extraction method depends on:

Value of the ore
Cost of Extraction

The shape and orientation of the ore body

The distribution of the ore mineral Gold ore vein, Bissett
The strength of the ore and surrounding
Solubility of Ore

Social Issues related to mining town:

temporary with fly in workers e.g. Ekati
or permanent like Leaf Rapids, Lynn Lake
INCO Thompson Ni ore
Types of Ore
Massive: base metal Cu, Ni, Zn
Disseminated: gold, diamonds

Bissett Au

Native copper, Michigan

Ekati, NWT, Diamonds

Snow Lake
0.16 oz Au /
Bedded Ore bodies

Potash, Saskatchewan
Syncrude, Oil sands,
Fort McMurray

Black Thunder Coal Mine

Wyoming, USA
Extraction process
depend on shape, position and
value of ore body
Open Pit
Strip Mining
Underground Mine
Dissolution: potash, uranium,
In situ mobilization: oil shale
Heap Leach
Open Pit

Bingham Canyon Cu Mine

The amount of waste rock to be

removed to provide reasonable
gradient for trucks.
Only efficient for large ore bodies
close to the surface
Open Pit can be useful for dumping
mine waste at closure

Ekati Diamond Mine

Strip Mining

Very efficient for high level flat lying ore bodies.

Overburden and top soil can be replaced minimizing environmental
Dissolution: potash, uranium
In situ mobilization: sulfur, oil shale
NaCl or KCl
dissolved in

Acid in
situ leach
of metallic
Hot water or steam
used to mobilize sulfur
or oil
Heap Leach

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

Ore bearing and non ore-bearing rock will be separated as soon as
What happens to non-ore-bearing rock?
Ore-bearing rock will be crushed to the size necessary to liberate the
required mineral
Heap leach requires only very coarse crushing
Much finer crushing for gold and PGE as they
are enclosed within other mineral grains
Initial crushing underground
In mill, crushing in autogenous circuit with
feedback of large particles
Final crushing in rod or ball mills
(Extraction of metal from rock/mineral)
Physical techniques
Gold from quartz
Sulphides from silicates
Cu and Ni sulphides
NaCl from KCl
Chemical Techniques
CN leaching
Roaster oxidizes sulphide to SO2
Electrochemical Refining of pure metal

Consider the waste generated at each stage

Gravity Separation

Whiffle table

Fine grained waste goes to tailings pond. What does it contain?

Flotation Cells

Ore becomes attached to air bubbles, float, and are collected.

Gangue sinks to the bottom of the flotation cells and piped to
tailings pond

Chemicals added include:

Frothers: pine oils & alcohols promote the formation and stability of
Collectors promote adherence of air bubbles to the mineral.
Conditioners: make the surface of the mineral particle either more or
less susceptible to concentration.
Activators e.g. copper sulfate, lead nitrate, lead acetate
Depressants e.g. sodium cyanide, zinc sulfate
Chemical Separation
Cyanide leaching for gold
at pH 11
Gold retrieved by Merrill
Crowe (precipitation on
zinc dust)
or Carbon in Pulp (CIP)

Roaster oxidizes sulphide

to SO2
Releases metal for
refining and SO2 to the
atmosphere unless
scrubbers are in place
Separates remaining silicates from metals
Slag (molten silicates) pored off
Metal pored into bars or sent for final
electochemical refining