Selected Readings in Mineral Economics

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After explaining the distinction between resources and reserves, this book proposes a concept of mineral reserves. The chapters that follow explore the conversion of resources into reserves through the exploration process, while focusing on the flow from resources to reserves and metal production based on the concept of the ""monitoring curve,"" along with the process of depletion and reserves replacement. The next section illustrates the range of issues associated with rational project evaluation in the minerals sector, considering the discounted cash flow techniques and option pricing as an approach to mine valuation.

The effects of Canada's tax system on the mineral supply process are then examined, together with international mineral markets and finance. This text concludes with a chapter that analyzes financing methods for large-scale mining projects, including innovative methods of debt finance involving risk sharing. This book will be of interest to those working in the mining and metallurgical industries.

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Social and Environmental Costs

We would like to ask you for a moment of your time to fill in a short questionnaire, at the end of your visit. If you decide to participate, a new browser tab will open so you can complete the survey after you have completed your visit to this website. Thanks in advance for your time. Skip to content. Search for books, journals or webpages Hydraulic mining is used for placer deposits of gold, tin, and other metals. Surface mining equipment is similar to construction equipment e.

Surface mining today is characterized by very large equipment e.

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Underground mining is used when the deposit is too deep for surface mining or there is a restriction on the use of the surface land. The deposit is accessed from the surface by vertical shafts, horizontal adits, or inclines Figure The deposit itself is developed by criss-crossing openings called levels, cross-cuts, raises, etc. The drilling, blasting, loading, and transporting of ore from active working areas faces are carried out according to a mining plan.


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If the deposit is soft, such as coal, potash, or salt, mechanical means can be used to cut and load the deposit, thereby eliminating the need. FIGURE A conceptual representation of the general layout of a modern mine, the methods of mining, and the technology used. In hard-rock mines carefully planned drilling into the ore and blasting with dynamite or ammonium-nitrate explosives are common.

Underground metal-mining methods may be unsupported, supported, and caving methods, and there are numerous variations of each. Open stopes, room-and-pillar, and sublevel stoping methods are the most common unsupported methods; cut-and-fill stoping when the fill is often waste from the mine and mill tailings is the most common method of supported underground mining Figure Because of the high costs associated with supported and unsupported mining methods, open stoping with caving methods is used whenever feasible.

Underground coal mining today is basically done by two methods: room-and-pillar mining with continuous miners, and longwall mining with shearers.

Mining in BC

The former is essential for developing large blocks of coal for longwall extraction. The production and productivity of individual, continuous, and longwall production units have increased consistently over the years. In the last two decades longwall mining in the U. Currently, about 60 longwall faces produce about million tons of coal per year.

However, the production rate depends on the width of the face, the thickness of the seam, and the system for removing the coal from the face. In longwall mining, operations are concentrated along face from meters to meters wide. The height of extraction is usually the thickness of the coal seam. The length of the longwall block is about 3, meters to 5, meters. In a 3 meter thick coal seam the amount of coal in place in a block is six to seven million tons. The basic equipment is a shearer a cutting machine mounted on a steel conveyor that moves it along the face Figure The conveyor discharges the coal onto a conveyor belt for transport out of the mine.

The longwall face crew, the shearer, and the face conveyor are under a continuous canopy of steel created by supports called shields. The shields, face conveyor, and shearer are connected to each other and move in a programmed sequence so that the longwall face is always supported as the shearer continuously cuts the coal in slices about 1 meter thick. The shearer is much like a cheese slicer running back and forth across a block of cheese.

In simple terms mining involves breaking in-situ materials and hauling the broken materials out of the mine, while ensuring the health and safety of miners and the economic viability of the operation.

Since the early s, a relentless search has been under way for new and innovative mining technologies that can improve health, safety, and productivity. In recent decades another driver has been a growing awareness of the adverse environmental and ecological impacts of mining. Markers along the trail of mining extraction technology include the invention of the safety lamp, and safe use of dynamite for fragmentation, the safe use of electricity, the development of continuous miners for cutting coal, the invention of rock bolts for ground support, open-pit mining.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, even as the U. For example, the inability to ascertain the conditions ahead in the mining face impedes rapid advance and creates health and safety hazards. As mining progresses to greater depths the increase in rock stress requires innovative designs for ensuring the short-term and long-term stability of the mine structure. Truly continuous mining will require innovative fragmentation and material-handling systems.

In addition, sensing, analyzing, and communicating data and information will become increasingly important. Mining environments also present unique challenges to the design and operation of equipment. Composed of a large number of complex components, mining systems must be extremely reliable.

Selected Readings in Mineral Economics

Therefore, innovative maintenance strategies, supported by modern monitoring technologies, will be necessary for increasing the productive operational time of equipment and the mining system as a whole. Unexpected geological conditions during the mining process can threaten worker safety and may decrease productivity. Geological problems encountered in mining can include local thinning or thickening of the deposit, the loss of the deposit itself, unexpected dikes and faults, and intersections of gas and water reservoirs.

Even with detailed advanced exploration at closely spaced intervals, mining operations have been affected by many problems, such as gas outbursts, water inundations, dangerous strata conditions, and severe operational problems, that can result in injuries to personnel, as well as major losses of equipment and decreases in production. Advances in in-ground geophysics could lead to the development of new technologies for predicting geological conditions in advance of the mining face defined here as look-ahead technology.


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Three major technology areas are involved in systems that can interrogate the rock mass ahead of a working face: sensor systems, data processing, and visualization. All three areas should be pursued in parallel to effect progress in the development of a usable system. Research on the development of specific sensors and sensor systems has focused on seismic methods.

In underground mining the mining machine if mining is continuous can be used as a sound source, and receivers can be placed in arrays just behind the working face. For drilling and blasting operations, either on the surface or underground, blast pulses can be used to interrogate rock adjacent to the rock being moved. However, numerous difficulties have been encountered, even with this relatively straightforward approach. Current seismic systems are not designed to receive and process multiple signals or continuous-wave sources, such as those from the mining machine. In another study an NRC panel concluded that controlled blasting methods could generate strong enough signals for analysis and suitable for geotechnical investigations NRC, b.

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Other sensing methods that could be explored include electromagnetics and ground-penetrating radar. Combinations of sensing methods should also be explored to maximize the overlaying of multiple data sets.


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  • The second major area that requires additional research is data processing methods for interpreting sensor data. The mining industry has a critical need for processing algorithms that can take advantage of current parallel-processing technologies. Currently, the processing of seismic data can take many hours or days. Real-time turnaround in minutes in processing will be necessary for the data to be useful for continuous mining.

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    The third area of need is data display and visualization, which are closely related to the processing and interpretation of data. The data cannot be quickly assessed unless they are in a form that can be readily reviewed. The need for visualizing data, especially in three dimensions, is not unique to the mining industry.

    In fact, it is being addressed by many technical communities, especially in numerical analysis and simulation. Ongoing work could be leveraged and extended to meet the needs of the mining industry.

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    With look-ahead technology unexpected features and events could be detected and avoided or additional engineering measures put in place to prevent injuries and damage to equipment. The economic benefits of anticipating the narrowing or widening of the mined strata or other changes in the geologic nature of the orebody would also be substantial. Mechanized cutting of rock for underground construction and mining has long been a focus area of technology development NRC, a.

    For coal and soft rock, high-production cutting tools and machines have been available for some time and continue to be improved, especially in cutter designs that minimize dust and optimize fragment size for downstream moving and processing. Hardrock presents much more difficult problems. Tunnel-boring machines can cut hardrock at reasonable rates, but the cutters are expensive and wear out rapidly, and the machines require very high thust and specific energy the quantity of energy required to excavate a unit of volume.

    In addition, tunnel-boring machines are not mobile enough to follow sharply changing or dipping ore bodies. Drilling and blasting methods are commonly used to excavate hardrock in both surface and underground mining. Blasting is also used to move large amounts of overburden blast casting in some surface mining operations. Improved blasting methods for more precise rock movement and better control of the fragment sizes would reduce the cost of overbreak removal, as well as the cost of downstream processing.

    Recommended areas for research and development in cutting and fragmentation are the development of hardrock cutting methods and tools and improved blast designs. Research on the design of more mobile, rapid, and reliable hardrock excavation would benefit both the mining and underground construction industries. Early focus of this research should be on a better understanding of fracture mechanisms in rock so that better cutters can be designed NRC, b.

    In addition, preconditioning the rock with water jets, thermal impulses, explosive impulses, or other techniques are promising technologies for weakening rock, which would make subsequent mechanical cutting easier.

    Priniciples of Mineral Economics
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