Are you aware of the various stages of the Mineral Development Process? It is neither an easy task nor quick to start mining an area, there are many factors to consider before starting mining. Creating a mine is a very extensive, costly and intricate process. The following steps aim to describe in simple form the process. Every day we will disclose each step in detail whereas today we will merely introduce and touch base on the various stages.
Contrasting to other resource industries the very first aspect to contemplate is the availability of land resources. This is a critical starting block as such mineral resources are hidden, concealed and buried below the ground. The most difficult aspect at this stage is finding a deposit worth mining.
Exploration is the second and next stage in the process that takes approximately 8-10 years. It is now clear that locating a new deposit that is feasible to mine is not a quick or easy task and it takes more than just a spade, gold pan and hole – there are teams and teams of various specialized skilled and technical people employed needed for the success of any mine. Popular job titles for the exploration phase commonly employ geologists, prospectors, pilots, drillers, assayers, equipment operators, surveyors, mechanics, camp cooks, all who are vital ingredients in the discovery of viable mineral deposits.
The third phase namely environmental assessment and approval is a continuing stakeholder sounding. Highly complex aspects of this step in the process can take years to complete and includes assessing and permitting the environment itself.
The construction phase is the fourth step to this process and lasts for about 1-3 years. Establishing strong feasibility studies and obtaining permits as well as licenses allow for the physical construction of the operation to arise. After the unearthing and evaluation, a vast amount of goods and services are brought in to take the mining project into production. Such goods include suppliers of transportation, utilities, construction materials, equipment and so much more.
Operation is next in the Mineral Resources Development Cycle. Surface mining methods are adopted to extract minerals close to the surface of the Earth and this is called extraction. Here, heavy equipment such as drills, shovels, drag-lines and trucks are effectively utilized to make operations efficient and economical.
In order to extract rock and various minerals that are deeply buried, underground mining methods are used and this requires specialized and highly skilled equipment in order to move mining staff and material so that the work and activities within the mine can proceed in restricted space. There are steps required to change raw, broken ore into usable material or to separate the minerals that
are of value from waste rock.
A vital and extremely complex component included in the operation phase is what is called Processing.
The second last phase namely closure lasts only for about 1-2 years. The term closure of a mine doesn’t essentially mean that rock or other minerals have been exhausted or fully taken out of the ground. Closure of a mine occurs due to various factors relevant to market costs and demand. Whatever the reasons for closure, the operation cannot be shut down instantly. It can literally take months to close down a mine with heaps of planning.
Reclamation is the last and final step and can last anywhere from 1 to 4 years. From start to finish environmental management is integral to all successful mining operations. Before the mining begins, pledges/contracts are established with the provincial government before mining begins to insure that reclamation and monitoring of the surrounding environment will carry on long after the mine has shut down.