What is mining relating to minerals?

1 Answer
Apr 26, 2016

Yes, almost always.


Most forms of mining are trying to extract valuable minerals within the rocks (e.g. gold, silver, copper, uranium, zinc, iron, aluminum and a host more).

For a deposit of say, copper, to be economic it must be concentrated into an economically viable "ore grade". This varies form mineral to mineral, but generally needs to be around 0.5% of the rock or greater. If its less than this amount, it means you need to spend more and more money and energy to get the valuable mineral separated from the unwanted "gangue" (worthless rock). There are some exceptions though. For example, gold may be economic at lower grades because it is so valuable.

Coal is also mined, but technically speaking coal is a rock and not a mineral. There are also gravel operations which is a type of mining that is not really extracting a single valuable mineral.