Mining Industries (Part One)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Mineral wealth is of great importance as there are a large number of industries based on it. There are also huge reserves of mineral resources, which constitute the cornerstone of any future investments and projects in this sector.  It includes the ores and minerals existing on the surface or in underground, which are extracted from quarries or mines through various extraction and mining operations.

Mining is defined as the extraction of economically feasible mineral ores by various mining methods and transferring them to processing and concentration units, and exploiting them.


Mining Industries Associated with Mineral Wealth

Extractive Industries: Industries that depend on extracting raw materials and minerals from the ground, like crushers, quarries and mines.

Converting Industries: Industries that rely on converting raw materials resulting from the extractive industries to produce new shapes and sizes as per manufacturer designs using different methods: chemical, physical or engineering.  These industries are cement, glass, ceramics, iron, Concrete, etc.

The extractive industries: involve several mining methods:


First: Surface Mining:

Surface Mining features easy mining, lower costs, flexibility, and easier production control. It’s used to extract the materials near the surface of the earth, and it’s common in the UAE such as crushers, quarries in some emirates. The following image shows one of the surface mining sites.

 

Surface mining can be divided into the following types:

Open Pits:

The upper layer - the rocks covering the ore - is removed until the ore is reached, and this is done by making graded faces in the mine, and then blasting the materials using surface mining methods. Iron ores, some copper and gold ores, and most industrial mineral ores such as phosphates and bauxite are examples of materials can be produced using this type.

 

Quarry:

In this type the materials are directly extracted or by removing the top layer and then exploiting them. Dimension stone like Granite is an example for this kind of mines where the materials are cut, polished and prepared for selling.

Placer Mining:

It’s used to mine clay deposits containing precious metals found under the surfaces of rivers and streams.


Second: Underground Mining:

Underground mining is used to extract raw materials found in the depths. This type is suitable for materials contain high minerals concentration.  But the production is low; and it’s cost is higher than surface mining where tunnels are being dug and wells are drilled to reach the mineral deposits and carry out continuous maintenance work inside the mines.  Examples of these mines are coal, copper, and gold mines as illustrated in the following picture:

 

 

 

In surface mining operations, the operations are classified into three main processes:

1. Quarry Operations: It includes a number of sub-activities as follows:

          Blasting: where holes are made in the mountains and blown up to obtain rocks of different sizes.

          Rocks Extraction: rocks are extracted by using excavators and bulldozers.

          Haulage of Rocks: the extracted rocks are transported then to the crushing units or sold for use in the construction of breakwaters, islands and beaches.

2. Crusher Operations: Crusher is accomplished by crushing the extracted rocks using several types of machines (crushers); where rocks of

large sizes are crushed to lower sizes in several stages to obtain different sizes for use in other manufacturing processes.

3. Screening Operations: At this stage, the crushed rocks are screened using screens to obtain different sizes and shapes of materials for use in the manufacture of cement, tiles and bricks, ready mix concrete, asphalt, etc... 

 

Environmental Impacts Associated to Mining Industries

There are many negative environmental impacts associated with surface mining operations, including: air pollution with fugitive dust and gases emitted by equipment and machinery, ground vibrations caused by mining operations, noise and visual pollution, soil and water pollution, blocking of the valleys, waste accumulation, and negative impacts on the ecosystem in general.

As the environmental impacts are multiple, legislations and technical requirements must be mandated to monitor the work of quarries and mines, the following recommendations are suggested to be implemented to monitor the environmental impacts:

1. Setting laws and regulations governing the work of quarries and mines.

2. Utilizing modern technologies to curb the fugitive dust from the production, storage and loading

    operations like filters and water sprinklers, and covering production units.

3. Developing mining plans by selecting best materials for production to avoid waste production.

4. Developing an environmental management plan that includes recommended environmental measures 

   and rehabilitation plan to mitigate the negative environmental impact and offset the damaged vegetation

   and ecosystems.

6. Training workforce to follow health and safety and environmental guidelines.

6. Encouraging the principles of rationalizing energy and water consumption and the importance of

   implementing energy efficiency systems in the workplace.

7. Monitoring environmental compliance regularly by using the Internet and developing electronic applications for this purpose.

8. Use of technological solutions to raise the efficiency of control and inspection operations like       geographic information systems and remote sensing by drones.

 

 



References


  1. Dabi Sanaa, M. Zahraoui, M. El Wartiti, M. Jebrak, F. Z. Nahraoui, and D. Fadli, (2011), Environment Mining and sustainable Development, Present Environment Mining and sustainable Development, Vol.5, No.2.
  2. Geology and Environmental Impact Statement, Published by: The Institute of Geologists of Ireland, Geology Department,  University College Dublin (2002).

 

 Yousef Jawabreh

Mining Advisor

Ministry of Energy and Industry


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