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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

Minerals and mining


We extract raw minerals from beneath our planets 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, specific chemical composition,
and distinct physical properties

Minerals are nonrenewable, so we need to be aware of their finite and decreasing


supplies

Minerals are everywhere in our products

We obtain minerals by mining


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

We extract minerals from ores


Metal = an element that is lustrous, opaque, 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, iron, lead,
gold, aluminum

Tantalite ore is mined, processed into tantalum, and used in electronic


devices

We process metals after mining ore


Most minerals must be processed after mining
After mining the ore, 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, 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

Steps in Obtaining Mineral Commodities


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

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

Extraction process depend on shape,


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

Open Pit Mining


Bingham Canyon Cu Mine
4 km in diameter 1 km in
depth, at its zenith 400000
tons of rock per day

a.

b.

c.

d.
e.
Ekati Diamond Mine

Overlaying
material
is
removed
using
large
equipment
Creates
pits
that
are
hundreds of meters wide and
hundreds of meters deep.
The amount of waste rock to
be removed to provide
reasonable
gradient
for
trucks.
Only efficient for large ore
bodies close to the surface
Can be useful for dumping
mine waste at closure

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

Underground Mining
a.

b.

c.

d.

Very expensive and the most


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

Dissolution: potash, uranium


In situ mobilization: sulfur, 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

Heap Leach

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

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- mine tailings (mining waste)
Loss of topsoil in strip-mined regions
Spoil banks are where holes were filled in with waste- cheap & easysusceptible to erosion, chemical weathering, causes high sediment runoff in
watersheds. Steep slopes are slow to re-vegetate (succession happens
slowly- no topsoil)
Contamination of soil or water from heavy metals (e.g. arsenic, mercury) in
mine tailings.
Contamination from sulfuric acid (H2SO4) produced through weathering of
iron sulfide (FeS2, pyrite) in tailings.
4FeS2 + 14H2O = 4Fe(OH)3 + 8H2SO4

Water leaking into mine shafts, 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

Mining and environmental issues


Minimizing the impact:
- If mining will cause quality deterioration of either surface water or
groundwater, remedial and treatment measures must be developed
to meet discharge standards.
- 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.

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- remelt & reshape waste scrap iron & steel. Cost comparison:
$225-$480 per metric ton while regular steel mills cost $1425-$2250 per metric ton.

Ex: platinum (catalytic converters), gold, silver, copper, lead, iron, steel

Substituting New Materials for Old


History: Stone age, bronze age, iron age
Plastic PVC instead of copper, lead, steel pipes
Fiber optic technology and satellite communication reduces the need for copper
telephone wires
Steel replaced by aluminum, polymers, alloys that reduce weight & cost, increase fuel
efficiency in cars

THANK YOU