Can you please describe the major steps involved in the mining process?
It depends on the type of mining to some extent, but quite often it follows 5 general steps.
The type of mining depends on the geological and topographic setting that mineral deposits are found in. But generally speaking there are about 5 steps to most mining operations, as follows:
1) exploration and development - mineral deposits of suitable size and geological setting are worked up and the most promising locations are then considered for actual mining.
2) Environmental assessment and approvals from government.
3) Construction - mine site development and overburden removal - it takes awhile to set up a mine and then overburden or rock with not economic interests must be removed. In underground mines, this non-economic rock must still be mined out before reaching an ore body.
4) Operation - active mining of the ore or mineral zone of economic interest. Most mines are designed to last a few decades and some have been operation for up to 100 years if the deposit is large and the demand for their mineral stays high.
5) closure and recycling of the site to government standards or regulations. in the past, many companies simply walked away from a mine site or declared bankruptcy so that they would not have to spend money on closure and reclamation. Governments now are getting tougher on this requirement.