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. For mining to be lucrative, high-quality ores must be concentrated in a relatively small area. Exploration is what we call the process of finding the most valuable minerals.
Geologists and 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 richard william warke underground deposits without 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 the Earth’s surface. These images allow us to study and locate existing mines, or find new ones.
Geophysical methods utilize geology, as well as the mineral properties to locate them underground. In kimberlite pipes, igneous rock, and 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 realized South Africa’s potential as a mineral-rich country when they arrived. Gold and then diamonds had been discovered. When minerals were discovered in South Africa, colonialists seized land without mercy from local people. They ignored their rights of ownership and access.
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 the minerals they mine.
Mining methods are determined by many factors, including the size and location of the deposit. Other considerations include the strength of the rock, the grade of ore, and the current market prices of commodities.
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, the material is taken to a mill for the separation of the waste from the ore.
The surface method is more cost-effective than 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.