Mining production involves the extraction of minerals and other geological materials which are transformed into a mineralised form that serves an economic benefit to the prospector or miner. Machinery, equipment and processes are used all over the world to mine and process raw materials. This is to make the production and processing of raw materials as efficient and sustainable as possible.
Over the years, mining production has evolved from being manual, unsafe, dirty and small-scale to being partially- or fully-automated, safer, cleaner and large-scale. Unlike their predecessors, today’s miners are highly trained personnel performing skilled work in accordance with the highest health, safety and environmental standards.
The method used to separate the mineral or metal materials from the ore depends on the type of minerals or the grade. The first part of the process is to reduce the size of the pieces of mined material. It might be crushed into pebble-sized pieces or ground into a fine powder.
The mineral or metal is then extracted by one of the following processes, or by a combination of them:
After extraction, the mineral or metal product (in solid, slurry or dissolved form) may require further processing to increase its purity.
The waste is sent to long-term storage. Coarse waste is moved to a residue pad and tailings (fine waste) is pumped to the tailings storage facility
The state (solid, liquid or dissolved) of the mineral or metal will determine the type of purification method to be used. Some products, like iron ore, only need to be sized and shaped. To produce London Metal Exchange (LME) grade copper cathodes the copper must first be changed from a dissolved to a solid state by solvent extraction or activated carbon adsorption. This is then followed by electrowinning and electrorefining.