Part 1 / 2
So today is the day that we kick off the second last phase with regards to the life cycle of a mine, namely the operation phase which can last up to 30 years. Mine operation is directly involved with extracting, processing, producing and transporting the located mineral products.
Here actual people, heavy machinery and specialized equipment share the responsibility of extracting mineral deposits from the earth. After extraction, the minerals are processed into metals, non-metals or industrial mineral products which will be tomorrow’s topic – part 2 of the operation phase.
Mines are not just industrial operations but also organisations operating within a market that is heavily competitive, and therefore require the complete match of all employees in order to enable a safe, efficient and profitable mine. People of employment reflect mining engineers, geologists, equipment operators and of course, the miners themselves. Even though such roles are critical to the functioning of a mine, needed is a much wider range of highly skilled and well trained employees such as accountants, heavy duty electricians, welders, and everyone in between.
There are 2 main types of mining operations: 1. Open pit or surface which involves the removal of a thin layer of overburden to expose and extract rock that contains marketable minerals, also known as valuable minerals. 2. Underground – An underground mine implies that the mineral deposits are very deep in the ground. Sometimes open pit mining operations become underground operations.
Aspects such as water quality and quantity, biodiversity, human rights, wildlife preservation, waste water supervision, air quality, fisheries, etc. are also measured and monitored in order to alleviate social and environmental effects. Naturally, there are opportunities to implement long-term community investment platforms focused upon locally-identified needs and resources.
There are 5 main phases within operation:
The operation phase employs professionals, management and skilled trade people who are highly knowledgeable within 4 critical work areas namely excavation, processing plants, waste storage and support services. Excavation of ore is where people and equipment move the earth and remove the located ore. The processing of ore, which will be discussed in great detail, means ore is screened in order to distinguish between marketable and unmarketable minerals. Waste storage is needed to store waste rock from the excavation and for material thrown out by mills after processing. Support services are your business roles which help the mine function but don’t necessarily operate within the actual mine. Examples of such roles include human resources, IT and security.