The term ‘mining’ means extraction. The process of mining entails the extraction of valuable resources from the earth by using various methods and techniques.
Discovery of Mining Techniques – A Revolutionary Development
The discovery of the methods and techniques to extract the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the earth and the development of various machines to carry out the processes was a revolutionary development in the history of mankind.
It not only makes our daily lives a lot easier by allowing us to utilize the vast reserves of oil, coal and gas for daily purposes, but it also led to the invention of various instruments, gadgets and items of everyday use which are made with the help of various metals, like copper, iron, aluminum etc. In addition to these, we were also able get our hands on some of the most precious metals and stones just because of the development of various mining techniques and methods. Had geologists not invented these techniques, we would not have been able to use gold, silver, diamond, emerald and other precious stones to make beautiful ornaments to adorn ourselves with.
Countries prospered and civilizations developed as they started extracting the natural wealth lying beneath the surface of the earth and used it to further their economic activities and industrial growth.
Types of Mining
The process of mining can be broadly divided into 2 categories:
- Surface Mining
- Underground Mining
These types are further divided into various sub-categories.
Surface mining is a broad category that is comprised of various methods used by geologists to extract the mineral deposits, metals and ores lying near the surface of the earth. Different kinds of surface mining are:
- Open pit or Opencast mining
- Strip mining
The most common element extracted through surface mining is ‘coal’.
Underground mining includes techniques and methods used to extract metals, ores and minerals that lie deep within the earth and cannot be taken out with surface mining techniques. In these types of mining techniques, an entrance point is made from the earth’s surface, which is in the form of a mine shaft, an adit or a tunnel. Major types of underground mining are:
- Longwall mining
- Room and pillar mining
- Shaft mining
- Block caving
- Cut and fill stoping
- Borehole mining
Negative Effects of Mining
In addition to the numerous benefits provided to human beings due to the extraction of valuable natural resources, the processes used to carry out mining produces have some negative effects as well, particularly on the environment. Some of the major negative impacts are as follows:
- Mining causes the emission of various gases, dust and trace elements that lead to the contamination of air and surface water.
- The quality of the soil and its fertility is compromised because of mining. Also, it makes the soil toxic.
- It causes deforestation, destruction of landscapes and wildlife habitats.
- The water table gets lowered due to mining which in turn affects the flow of groundwater.