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Importance and advantages of mining and quarrying

Importance and advantages of mining and quarrying

Mining and quarrying is an essential industry as it forms the foundation of every other sector that utilizes minerals as their raw material. These sectors include iron and steel, construction, aerospace, technology, heavy machinery, kitchenware, paper, silk, and fabrics. Businesses use mining and quarrying to extract useful substances and materials from the ground, like coal, stone, and metals. Some essential facts about the mining and quarrying sector are listed below.

Difference between mining and quarrying
Mining denotes the process of extracting minerals from an underground site. Quarrying, on the other hand, is mineral extraction without a roof. Mining demands more work, is usually more dangerous, and is the source of materials like gold, iron, diamonds, gypsum, limestone, and potash. Quarrying work usually happens on the earth’s surface. In mining, the target substance is buried in rock; however, when it comes to the quarrying sector, the material is the rock itself.

Mining and quarrying jobs
Mining and quarrying jobs account for about 1% of the world’s workforce. Over 10 million of the 30 million people employed in these sectors are involved in coal production. Estimates suggest that at least 6 million more people work in small-scale mines. Mining and quarrying may account for about 30 million employees, but people in jobs that rely on these sectors are about 300 million. These numbers indicate the significance of the mining and quarrying industry.

Mining equipment
Mining can be carried out on the surface or underground. Based on the type of mining, different equipment is required. There are three main steps involved in mining, including-

  • Extraction – It involves digging, drilling, and blasting to remove materials from the mining zone.
  • Material handling – It includes sorting, storing, and loading the materials that need to be discarded or sent for processing.
  • Material processing – Based on the mineral, the final step may involve grinding, separating, refining, smelting, or crushing the mineral ore. This process is usually carried out at an off-site plant and turned into finished products to be used by other industries.

The most commonly used mining equipment are large trucks, enormous dozers, rope shovels, big wheel loaders, draglines, underground mining loaders and trucks, hydraulic mining shovels, and motor graders. Besides these, conveyor belts, sieves, hammering equipment, ovens, molds, and washers are also helpful in material processing.

Quarrying equipment
Machinery used in quarrying limestone, granite, and sand is often enormous and extremely powerful. There are four main categories of equipment.

Stripping and drilling equipment
For stripping and drilling, large-scale bulldozers move considerable amounts of dirt from the earth to reach the target rock. This equipment helps remove the material between the surface and the target material. Blasting is initiated by drilling holes into the ground. Into these holes, measured explosives are placed, stimulating a controlled explosion.

Wheel loaders
Wheel loaders have a hydraulic arm and bucket that help to load the dirt moved by tractors and basting it. Most massive loaders have a capacity of up to 35 tonnes. For small-scale quarrying operations, small loaders deliver materials to the end destination.

Off-highway trucks
Road trucks are massive vehicles employed in the mining and quarrying sectors to move dirt away and transport extracted material to the processing site or the final destination for use. They tend to have engines with 3,500 horsepower and can haul material of up to 3,600 tons. This capacity means they can transport bulk goods in a shorter duration, thus increasing productivity.

Crushing equipment
Crushers process large rocks into smaller ones using an extensive system of jaws, vibrators, and fixed steel plates. Once crushed, small-scale wheel loaders, called yard loaders, move the crushed stones to customer trucks.

Mining and quarrying benefits

Foundation for other industries
As mentioned earlier, mining and quarrying deliver raw materials for several other industries. Without coal mining, several factories and even cities will not have power. Gold extracted through these activities drive the economies of various countries. Minerals like steel, titanium, and silicon are mined or quarried and are helpful in manufacturing machines, motherboards, and even automobiles. Any average room will have many materials created from mining and quarrying products.

Creates job opportunities
Besides generating significant job opportunities within the sector worldwide, mining and quarrying industries also play a crucial role in creating jobs across other verticals. The mining sector requires skilled and unskilled workers, meaning a wide range of people from different educational and socio-economic backgrounds can find work in this sector.

High demand and profitability
There is a huge demand for mining and quarrying products since they are instrumental and not readily available. However, despite certain environmental drawbacks, several industries and governments rely on mined materials, making it a highly profitable sector.