Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or (coal) seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock salt and potash. Any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or created artificially in a laboratory or factory, is usually mined.

Mining techniques can be divided into two common excavation types: surface mining and sub-surface (underground) mining. Surface mining is done by removing (stripping) surface vegetation, dirt, and if necessary, layers of bedrock in order to reach buried ore deposits. Techniques of surface mining include; Open-pit mining which consists of recovery of materials from an open pit in the ground, quarrying or gathering building materials from an open pit mine, strip mining which consists of stripping surface layers off to reveal ore/seams underneath, and mountaintop removal, commonly associated with coal mining, which involves taking the top of a mountain off to reach ore deposits at depth. Sub-surface mining consists of digging tunnels or shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits. Ore, for processing, and waste rock, for disposal, are brought to the surface through the tunnels and shafts. Sub-surface mining can be classified by the type of access shafts used, the extraction method or the technique used to reach the mineral deposit.


Photo: Nanosmile


Photo: Placer Dome Inc.