What I am discussing today is purely light-hearted and simply interesting! (well at least I hope so) We are talking about open-pit mines vs underground mines. Both are relevant, both are needed, but, both are different so let’s get into it –
Open pit mining is a surface mining technique that is utilised worldwide. This old school form of mining involves no tunneling and is applied when materials are fairly close to the surface. One might think that an open pit mine is simply one big whole, instead, it is actually comprised of a series of ledges or benches which companies dig at angles. This is so that extraction can take place without causing structural weaknesses. Open pit mines are generally massive in size providing various resources from clay and coal to uranium and gold.
Building materials that are extracted from open pit mines are commonly labelled as quarries.
Interesting fact: The deepest mine in the world is South Africa’s TauTona gold mine. It is over 12,800ft and 2.5 miles deep!!
Once open pit mines are exhausted or inapplicable to build because for example the wanted minerals are not accessible, the operation will go underground. Underground mining involves several various techniques and methodology – there isn’t a fixed way. Mining companies can create spiral tunnels that circle the valuable resources, sink vertical shafts adjacent to the ore, or horizontal excavations into the side of the reserved area.
Underground mines are obviously slightly more complex than open pit mines and require management to take into account an extensive variety of additional necessities. Such requirements include complex ventilation systems, area and local ground support, and of course finding a dependable, safe, and cost-effective way to extract the materials to the surface.
Whether mine companies chose to operate an open pit mine or underground mine, there are numerous unique and complex challenges that cannot be ignored!