At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- List the various types of surface and underground mines
- Describe how mines are developed and ultimately reclaimed
- Describe the basic extraction and processing operations at a surface mine
The following key questions are answered in this module:
What is mining?
Mining is the search for, extraction, and processing of valuable materials from the earth's crust.
What do open-pit and opencast mean?
The terms "open-pit" and "opencast" refer to the type of surface mining which results in depressions or deep, funnel-shaped pit surrounded by sloped or stepped walls.
What is the typical "life-cycle" of a mine?
At its most basic level, the lifecycle of a mine proceeds through development, operation, and then reclamation.
What is meant by mine development and what does mine development include?
An active mining operation is the result of a deliberate and painstaking process which involves geologic exploration and surveying, functional and operational design, land use evaluation and permitting, site clearing and preparation, and construction.
What do surface mining operations generally include?
Surface mining operations generally include drilling and blasting, extraction, hauling, processing, and stockpiling.
What is mine reclamation?
The process of mine reclamation closes the loop on land use after mining operations have ceased. Mine operators may be required to have a documented plan clearly outlining how the land will be managed and restored when the mine has closed. This may involve plans for replacing fill material, compacting the site, and planting trees.
Below is a transcript of the video sample provided for this module:
The terms open-pit and opencast refer to the type of surface mining which results in a depression or deep funnel-shaped pit surrounded by sloped or stepped walls. At these types of surface mines, a material's hardness ultimately determines how it will be extracted. Softer, unconsolidated material, such as sand and gravel, clay, and some minerals, can be mined by heavy digging equipment. If the material is under water, dredging equipment is used to bring deposits to the surface for processing. Harder, consolidated materials such as granite, marble, and limestone may require drilling and blasting for efficient removal. An open-pit mining operation which regularly uses explosives is referred to as a quarry.
Use the additional resources and links below to learn more about this topic:
- US Department of the Interior (DOI) – www.doi.gov
- Surface Mining Control and Reclamation - http://eros.usgs.gov/lir/surface-mining-control-and-reclamation
- Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) – www.osmre.gov
- OSMRE Laws, Regulations, and Guidance - http://www.osmre.gov/lrg.shtm