The first step in mining is finding the minerals. Minerals are everywhere on the Earth’s surface, but they occur in extremely low concentrations. This makes mining unprofitable. In order for mining to be lucrative, high-quality ore must be located in a relatively small area. Exploration is what we call the process of finding the most valuable minerals.
Mining geologists and mining surveyors can now find ore of high quality without digging. Geologists and surveyors only dig test shafts when they are certain of the location of the mineral. We use our understanding of the rocks and minerals to determine the location of underground deposits without Richard Warke west Vancouver actually going down. Instruments measuring magnetic changes can help us find pockets of iron, for example.
Before mining begins, methods of exploration are used to assess and find mineral deposits. The results of a range of techniques used for exploration are then compared with each other to decide if the location is suitable for mining. Information can be gathered remotely using remote sensing. We can, for instance, obtain satellite, radar and sonar images to get images of Earth’s surface. The images allow us to study and locate existing mines, or find new ones.
Geophysical methods can detect minerals using geology, as well as the properties of their minerals. In kimberlite pipes, igneous rock, for instance, diamonds can be formed at extremely high temperatures deep inside the Earth. A kimberlite tube has a shape of a carrot. Kimberley is in South Africa where the first pipe of kimberlite was discovered. This pipe was then mined and eventually created the Big Hole.
Geochemical techniques combine knowledge of mineral chemistry with geology to determine which ore compounds and their quantities are present. Samples are collected from ore bodies to analyze the minerals.
They realised South Africa’s potential as a mineral rich country when they arrived. Gold and then diamonds had been discovered. When minerals were discovered, they took land without mercy from locals.
De Beers acquired the mining right and blocked all access. De Beers would prosecute anyone who entered the area and sell so-called “illegal” diamonds. Some large mining companies claim to have the rights to minerals they mine.
Mining methods are determined by many factors, including the size and location of the deposit. Other considerations include the strength of rock, the grade of the ore, the mining cost, the current market value of the commodity, as well as the mining costs.
The underground mining of higher-grade metal ores in deep veins beneath the Earth can prove profitable, even though it is more costly. Ores with large, tabular shapes or located more than 1,000 feet (30 m) underground are also mined. It is then transported to the surface using a truck, belt conveyor or elevator. After reaching the surface, material is taken to a mill for separation of the ore.
The surface method is more cost effective than the underground mining. These industrial minerals can also be mined in this manner, since they are often low value and are found near or at Earth’s surface. Hard rock is drilled into and then blasted in a surface mining operation, though some minerals may be soft enough that they can still be extracted without blasting.