The Use of Technology in Exploration, Mining, and Processing

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FREMONT, CA: Exploration, production, closure and after-mine land use all form part of the life cycle of mining. New technologies can improve this life cycle at every stage. The discussion is limited to technologies that affect the steps following extraction that lead to the first commercial product.

Using ore, a naturally occurring material, it is possible to extract minerals of commercial value for a reasonable price. Many different metals and ores can be found in a deposit, which must be concentrated in quantities 100-10,000 times greater than in the surrounding bedrock. In the earth's deep crust, ores are created by several geological processes. In prospecting, we aim to locate the ore whose properties can be identified. It has been found that many ore minerals are heavy, magnetic, or electrically conductive based on geophysical measurements. Groundwater and nearby grounds are often contaminated with metals from ores.

Exploration: It takes a long time for mining projects to lead to mines since exploration takes so long. Low prices, small or low-grade finds, or difficulty obtaining a permit may be reasons for this. For a mineral resource to be discovered and all the permits obtained, it generally takes 20-30 years.

Geological methods: Most metallic and nonmetallic ore deposits are formed by underlying physical and chemical processes. There is a lack of information about the processes of ore formation, including how metals are released from source rocks, transported, deposited, and altered after deposit. It has been difficult to model these processes due to a lack of thermodynamic and kinetic data on ore, gangue, and alteration products.

All collected data is analyzed after the first mapping and sampling phase, which usually takes several years. In the absence of interesting discoveries, it is abandoned. Field investigations are conducted when something interesting may be hidden underground. Based on the information collected, investigations are usually concentrated on areas with a high probability of finding ore. For deeper explorations, diamond drilling is usually used as a heavy and more expensive method. Depending on drilling results, prospecting activities are either stopped or steered more precisely to the best areas.

Geochemical and geophysical method: An important aspect of surface geochemical prospecting is the analysis of soil, rock, water, vegetation, and vapor for elements that may indicate a buried ore deposit. Exploration of mineral deposits has relied heavily on geochemical techniques since they played a critical role in discovering numerous deposits.