Portal:Mining

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Introduction

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Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, vein or (coal) seam. Any material that cannot be grown and harvested through agricultural processes (such as farming or forestry), or created artificially in a laboratory or factory, is usually mined. Materials recovered by mining include metals, ranging from base metals (such as iron and lead) to precious metals (such as gold and silver) to uranium, as well as coal, gemstones, limestone, marble, oil shale, rock salt, guano and potash. Mining in a wider sense comprises extraction of any non-renewable resource (e.g., petroleum, natural gas, or even water).

Mining has long been an essential part of human civilization and technology. In the Neolithic Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, mining provided the stone, copper and tin to make the bronze, and the iron. Discoveries of valuable minerals have sparked gold and silver rushes, leading to the mass migration of many thousands of individuals to places around the world. With the invention of the steam engine, coal mining became critical to fueling the Industrial Revolution. Newer technologies such as nuclear power and consumer electronics have increased demands for previously unimportant minerals, leading to new cycles of mineral discovery and mining.

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Uranium /jʊˈrniəm/ is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table that has the symbol U and atomic number 92. Besides its 92 protons, a uranium nucleus can have between 141 and 146 neutrons, with 146 (U-238) and 143 in its most common isotopes. The number of electrons in a uranium atom is 92, 6 of them valence electrons. Uranium has the highest atomic weight of the naturally occurring elements. Uranium is approximately 70% denser than lead, but not as dense as gold or tungsten. It is weakly radioactive. It occurs naturally in low concentrations (a few parts per million) in soil, rock and water, and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals such as uraninite (see uranium mining).

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Credit: JJ Harrison

Polished opal from a mine in Queensland, Australia

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Bingham Canyon
Credit: Andrew Crouthamel

Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah

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