Interesting Facts about Mining Industry

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The mining industry is a sector of the economy concerned with the extraction of mineral resources from the ground. It has transformed many places, created new towns, and even affected politics. The American Heritage Dictionary defines mining as extracting (ores, coal, etc.) from the ground by means of excavating ‘get copper ore from under the earth.’

There are many interesting facts about Mining Industry – let’s check them out now.

1. There was a High Demand for Uranium in the 1960s

In the 1960s, there was a huge demand for uranium because nuclear power plants were being built all over the world at that time, and many people were hired by companies to mine uranium ore from mines located in Wyoming (USA), Canada, and Australia. [1]

Uranium is still mined today but not at the same level as it was back then due to environmental concerns over using uranium as fuel for nuclear reactors.

2. The Largest Open-Pit Copper Mine

The largest open-pit copper mine in the world is Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah, USA. It has a depth of 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) and covers an area of 27,000 acres. This mine has produced 2.7 million tonnes of copper ore since 2008. [2]

3. Mining is An Ancient Art Form

Mining as we know it today began in ancient Egypt around 3,200 BC. It reached its peak during the Middle Kingdom (2050-1786 BC). The Egyptians used copper for jewelry and cosmetics containers; they also traded copper for grain with their neighbors in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

4. The Deepest Known Underground Mine

The deepest known underground mine was TauTona Gold Mine 3.9 kilometers in 2008. It was located in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert and closed on January 1st, 2013, after two decades of operation. [3]

5. Australia is Home to Largest Reserves of Crude Iron Ore

Australia is the world’s largest producer of iron ore, a material used to make steel. It is also the largest exporter of iron ore, producing about one-third of all global exports in 2016. The country exported 833 million tonnes of iron ore in that year.

6. The Evolution of Mining Techniques

Mining techniques changed over time as technology advanced. Before the industrial revolution, almost all mining was carried out by hand or with simple tools such as pickaxes and shovels. Today, huge mechanical diggers and other pieces of heavy equipment are used to extract minerals from deep underground.

7. The First Metal to Be Unearthed

The first metal mined was gold, and this began some 4,000 years ago in Egypt. Gold was used by the Egyptians for jewelry and ornaments. The Egyptians also used silver for making jewelry and utensils but did not use it for currency as it was not considered valuable enough.

8. Fool’s Gold

Fool’s gold is a common name for pyrite, iron sulfide. Pyrite is a heavy, brittle, brass-yellow mineral with an iron sulfide content of about 65%. It has been used for centuries as a pigment and in jewelry. The name “fool’s gold” comes from the fact that it closely resembles gold and often fools prospectors. However, while fool’s gold looks like gold, it is not worth as much as real gold when melted down. [4]

9. Archaeologists Have Discovered Copper Drain Pipes From As Far Back As 4000 BC

Archaeologists have discovered copper drain pipes in the ruins of a 4,600year-old city in what is now Iraq. The excavation revealed that the Sumerians used copper to make everything from weapons to farming tools.

It is one of the first finds of its kind since archaeologists began digging in Iraq in the early 20th century. The find offers more insight into how ancient civilizations used copper and bronze to create objects and tools.

10. The Luck of the Irish

The mining industry has a long history in Ireland, dating back to the Bronze Age. The first major discovery of gold occurred in 1787 by Thomas Molyneux and his brother-in-law, who found gold near Lough Gur, County Limerick. Their discovery was so significant that they were given free land and a pension for life!

11. The Oldest Mines in the World

The oldest mines found in Europe were opened in Spain around 50 million years ago during the Miocene period, when the climate was warm and wet, which made it ideal for plants and animals to grow rapidly. The most common minerals that were mined during this time included gold, silver, and copper ores.

12. Newcastle Mining Disaster

In 1844, one of the worst mining disasters in British history occurred at the Victoria Pit in the village of Newcastle upon Tyne in Northumberland. A fire broke out underground and killed 38 miners. The disaster led to new safety regulations being introduced across Great Britain, including improved ventilation shafts and water pumps. [5]

13. The First Modern Mining Company

The first mining company formed under modern laws was The Company of Mineral & Battery Works (it even included a battery in its name), which was set up by Elizabeth I in 1565 so that it could dig for tin and lead deposits in Cornwall, England (the name Cornwall comes from an ancient word meaning “Cornish hills”). This company was granted exclusive rights to all tin deposits within a radius of 12 miles around the town.

14. Mining was one of the Main Sources of Wealth for the French and Brits

Mining was one of the main sources of wealth in France and Great Britain during the 18th century; however, its contribution to GDP decreased significantly in subsequent centuries due to industrialization and urbanization, but it regained its importance due to technological advances in modern times.

15. Zinc is 100 Percent Recyclable

Zinc is one of the most abundant metallic elements on earth, and it is found in a wide variety of ores, most of which are mined as sulfides such as sphalerite (zinc blende) and galena (lead sulfide). Zinc and lead are both 100 percent recyclable. In fact, nearly 80% of the zinc produced in the United States is recycled. [6]

16. The Largest Mining Nation in the World

China ranks first on this list and produces around 844 million tons of iron ore per year. China also has the highest amount of copper production, which is around 1.8 million metric tons per year. China also produces more than 6.44 million metric tons of lead annually, making it one of the largest producers in this category. [7] [8] [9]

17. World’s Top Nickel Producer

The world’s top nickel producer, Norilsk Nickel, is also the world’s largest nickel miner. The company operates two mines: one in Russia’s Kola Peninsula and another in New Caledonia. It also operates two plants in Russia and Norway that produce nickel metal and ferroalloys.

18. The US has the Safest Mining Industry in the World

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), the average fatality rate for all industries in the United States is 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers per year. In 1920, 2,821 coal mining deaths were reported in the US, while in 2020, only five occupational fatalities were reported among 63,612 US coal miners. [10] [11]

Thanks to the investment in tech, top-notch equipment, and training that has made America’s mining industry the safest in the world.

19. The Greatest Gold Rush in the US History

The California Gold Rush was a major turning point in American history. It brought about a massive influx of people to the West Coast, and it created a huge demand for labor. It also sparked a boom in mining technologies, which led to greater efficiency and productivity. [12]

Within weeks after Marshall’s initial discovery at Sutter’s Mill, nearly 100,000 people arrived from all over the world, hoping to strike it rich.

20. Coal Mining Remains One of Australia’s Most Important Industries

Mining is a crucial part of the Australian economy and has been since the first European settlers arrived in 1788. Mining accounts for around 10% of Australia’s GDP and employs 1.4 million people directly or indirectly. Australia generated around 39.17 billion Australian dollars from coal exports in 2021. [13] [14] [15]

Today, Australia produces around 85% of its own coal needs and exports it to more than 60 countries worldwide, including China and India, where demand for coal has increased significantly over the last few years.

Conclusion

The mining industry is a large global sector in which different countries contribute a lot to its development. The advantages and disadvantages of the mining industry are well known, but some other aspects may be lesser known to an ordinary person. That is why it is important to remember these aspects and make an objective conclusion based on modern data.

References

  1. https://www.neimagazine.com/features/featurehistory-as-prelude-the-outlook-for-uranium/
  2. https://www.mining-technology.com/projects/bingham/
  3. https://www.mining-technology.com/projects/tautona_goldmine
  4. https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/mining/pyrite-the-real-story-behind-fools-gold
  5. https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/newcastle-pit-disaster-montagu-scotswood-20275565
  6. https://continuingeducation.bnpmedia.com/article_print.php?C=377&L=102
  7. https://www.statista.com/statistics/254847/copper-production-of-chile/
  8. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1131614/china-refined-lead-production-volume
  9. https://www.statista.com/statistics/307473/china-iron-ore-production
  10. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf
  11. https://www.statista.com/statistics/949324/number-occupational-coal-industry-fatalities-united-states/
  12. https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/gold-rush-of-1849
  13. https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/australia-mining
  14. https://www.statista.com/statistics/682989/australia-employment-in-mining-industry
  15. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1120570/australia-export-value-of-coal

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