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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mining Today

We always hear people stating we are running out of natural resources especially ores the problem is these people don’t really understand mining or where mineral resources might be hiding.  The real answer to this situation is simply the true size of the Earth; it is mind boggling.  Seventy-One percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water leaving the remaining 29% covered by land.  Virtually all the mines on earth are on the land with hardly any mining activity occurring at sea.  This is a situation that is apt to change in the years ahead. 

This is an aerial view of the Kidd Mine in Timmins, Ontario    NOAA

Even though mining activity is mostly confined to land areas even there we have barely scratched the surface.  The deepest mine on earth at present is the Mponend Goldmine in South Africa at 13,123 feet.  The deepest surface mine is Bingham Canyon in Utah having a depth of 3,397 feet.  On an average the crust of the earth is 14.7 miles thick ranging from 4 miles thick at its thinnest beneath the oceans to over 19 miles at its thickest beneath the continents!

Recent discoveries indicate that most mineral deposits have their origins from the so-called “Black Smokers” at spreading centers making it highly probable that most ore deposits are to be found on the ocean’s crust.  The ocean floor is also covered with another type of deposit called manganese nodules that in reality contain far more then manganese, but virtually any other metallic element all one has too do is go looking for them with a spectrometer.

There isn’t a mine in the whole world that is more then three miles deep leaving us a tremendous area that remains unexplored.  It must be remembered that modern mining techniques are less then a century old, so there is plenty of room for improvement.  I am sure the 49ers would hardly recognize the world of mining that exists today.

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