Mining is the economic activity or process wherein we dig and process certain minerals on the surface or underground. In fact, anything that is not available from agriculture and plants, must be mined. This includes even biotic products – we regularly ‘mine’ for various biotic compounds, fungi and algae from sea water, as they contain rich concentration of minerals or other compounds. Since mining is an economic process, its viability would depend upon whether the cost of product is more than the cost of extraction.
When a resource is abundantly available on the surface, it is not mined – it is just extracted. However, if the concentration recedes but not the demand of the product, then mining is done to a greater extent. For example, if surface water is available easily, tube-well bores are not needed; when surface water dries up, ground water is extracted. Sometimes, a product is mined for one use when its other utility is unknown. For example, the world’s earliest known mine at the ‘Lion Cave’ in Swaziland, which is 43,000 years old, was used for digging hematite (rich iron ore), not for iron, but for the ‘yellow ochre’ used for painting. Petroleum was useless until a use was found for it, and then the Middle East became the richest region on our planet. There are many materials whose utility we do not know yet; many others which are economically unviable at present; however, a time may come when all that may change and we will mine for them.
Mining gives us all our minerals, from iron, to copper, to asbestos. Without these products derived from mining, human civilization would not have progressed far. Whether the mined product is available on the surface or underground, we have to dig to extract them – the deeper the mineral, the more the digging. Hence, drilling is an essential mining activity. Various forms of drills, from metal drills to carborundum drills, are used. Natural gas and petroleum mining requires a high level of drilling technology which only few entities possess.
In this section of 01webdirectory, we provide links to various mining resources.