Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Person stabbing a yellow mineral block
Mining of sulfur from a deposit at the edge of Ijen
's crater lake

Mining is the extraction of valuable geological materials from the Earth and other astronomical objects. Mining is required to obtain most materials that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or feasibly created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, chalk, dimension stone, rock salt, potash, gravel, and clay. The ore must be a rock or mineral that contains valuable constituent, can be extracted or mined and sold for profit.[1] Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water.

Modern mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysis of the profit potential of a proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation or restoration of the land after the mine is closed.[2] Mining materials are often obtained from ore bodies, lodes, veins, seams, reefs, or placer deposits. The exploitation of these deposits for raw materials is dependent on investment, labor, energy, refining, and transportation cost.

Mining operations can create a negative environmental impact, both during the mining activity and after the mine has closed. Hence, most of the world's nations have passed

resource conflicts



Since the beginning of civilization, people have used

English Lake District.[4]
The oldest-known mine on archaeological record is the
Eswatini (Swaziland), which radiocarbon dating shows to be about 43,000 years old. At this site Paleolithic humans mined hematite to make the red pigment ochre.[5][6] Mines of a similar age in Hungary are believed to be sites where Neanderthals may have mined flint for weapons and tools.[7]

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians mined malachite at Maadi.[8] At first, Egyptians used the bright green malachite stones for ornamentations and pottery. Later, between 2613 and 2494 BC, large building projects required expeditions abroad to the area of Wadi Maghareh in order to secure minerals and other resources not available in Egypt itself.[9] Quarries for turquoise and copper were also found at Wadi Hammamat, Tura, Aswan and various other Nubian sites on the Sinai Peninsula and at Timna.[9] Quarries for gypsum were found at the Umm el-Sawwan site, gypsum was used to make funerary items for private tombs. Other minerals mined in Egypt from the Old Kingdom (2649-2134 BC) until the Roman Period (30 BC-AD 395) including granite, sandstone, limestone, basalt, travertine, gneiss, galena, and amethyst.[10]

Mining in Egypt occurred in the earliest dynasties. The gold mines of Nubia were among the largest and most extensive of any in Ancient Egypt. These mines are described by the Greek author Diodorus Siculus, who mentions fire-setting as one method used to break down the hard rock holding the gold. One of the complexes is shown in one of the earliest known mining maps.[11] The miners crushed the ore and ground it to a fine powder before washing the powder for the gold dust known as the dry and wet attachment processes.[12]

Ancient Greece and Rome

Ancient Roman development of the Dolaucothi Gold Mines
, Wales

Mining in Europe has a very long history. Examples include the silver mines of

archaeologists to have been used in buildings including the tomb of Amphipolis. Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, captured the gold mines of Mount Pangeo in 357 BC to fund his military campaigns.[15] He also captured gold mines in Thrace for minting coinage, eventually producing 26 tons
per year.

However, it was the

aqueducts. The water was used for a variety of purposes, including removing overburden and rock debris, called hydraulic mining, as well as washing comminuted
, or crushed, ores and driving simple machinery.

The Romans used hydraulic mining methods on a large scale to prospect for the

reservoirs and tanks. When a full tank was opened, the flood of water sluiced away the overburden to expose the bedrock underneath and any gold-bearing veins. The rock was then worked by fire-setting to heat the rock, which would be quenched with a stream of water. The resulting thermal shock cracked the rock, enabling it to be removed by further streams of water from the overhead tanks. The Roman miners used similar methods to work cassiterite deposits in Cornwall and lead ore in the Pennines

Sluicing methods were developed by the Romans in

millennia,[17] but after the Roman conquest, the scale of the operations increased dramatically, as the Romans needed Britannia's resources, especially gold, silver, tin, and lead

Roman techniques were not limited to surface mining. They followed the ore veins underground once opencast mining was no longer feasible. At

Medieval Europe

De Re Metallica

Mining as an industry underwent dramatic changes in

lances and other weapons.[19]
The overwhelming dependency on iron for military purposes spurred iron production and extraction processes.

The silver crisis of 1465 occurred when all mines had reached depths at which the shafts could no longer be pumped dry with the available technology.

still remained vital to the story of medieval mining.

Due to differences in the social structure of society, the increasing extraction of mineral deposits spread from

technicians and skilled workers were brought over; in 1642 a colony of 4,000 foreigners was mining and smelting copper at Keswick in the northwestern mountains.[21]

Use of water power in the form of

Black powder was first used in mining in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia) in 1627.[22] Black powder allowed blasting of rock and earth to loosen and reveal ore veins. Blasting was much faster than fire-setting and allowed the mining of previously impenetrable metals and ores.[23]
In 1762, the world's first mining academy was established in the same town there.

The widespread adoption of agricultural innovations such as the iron plowshare, as well as the growing use of metal as a building material, was also a driving force in the tremendous growth of the iron industry during this period. Inventions like the arrastra were often used by the Spanish to pulverize ore after being mined. This device was powered by animals and used the same principles used for grain threshing.[24]

Much of the knowledge of medieval mining techniques comes from books such as

Georg Agricola's De re metallica (1556). These books detail many different mining methods used in German and Saxon mines. A prime issue in medieval mines, which Agricola
explains in detail, was the removal of water from mining shafts. As miners dug deeper to access new veins, flooding became a very real obstacle. The mining industry became dramatically more efficient and prosperous with the invention of mechanically- and animal-driven pumps.


Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest producer of diamonds in Africa, with an estimated 12 million carats in 2019. Other types of mining reserves in Africa include cobalt, bauxite, iron ore, coal, and copper.[26]


Gold and coal mining started in Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century. Nickel has become important in the economy of New Caledonia.

In Fiji, in 1934, the Emperor Gold Mining Company Ltd. established operations at Vatukoula, followed in 1935 by the Loloma Gold Mines, N.L., and then by Fiji Mines Development Ltd. (aka Dolphin Mines Ltd.). These developments ushered in a “mining boom”, with gold production rising more than a hundred-fold, from 931.4 oz in 1934 to 107,788.5 oz in 1939, an order of magnitude then comparable to the combined output of New Zealand and Australia's eastern states.[27]


During prehistoric times, early Americans mined large amounts of

, Michigan, U.S. in 1905.