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Mining is the process of extracting ore, minerals, coal, or gemstones from the ground, while drilling is the method by which natural gas, petroleum, or water is extracted from the ground, using a shaft-like tool with two or more cutting edges intended to make holes in the ground.

Generally, mining involves a large hole, while drilling leaves a circular, relatively small, hole. Both of these are addressed in this portion of our guide.

Digging stuff out of the ground is big business. The sub-surface of the earth contains a lot of valuable and useful minerals. Mining relates to minerals and ores, although gravel pits are also a form of mining. People have been extracting resources from the earth since prehistoric times, including flint, gold, and copper mining.

Mining is used to acquire most materials that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, raised, or created artificially. Through mining, we obtain chalk, clay, dimension stone, gemstones, gravel, limestone, metals, oil shale, potash, rock salt, and various ores, which are rocks or minerals containing valuable constituents that can be extracted or mined, and sold for profit.

In a wider sense, the extraction of non-renewable resources, such as petroleum, natural gas, and water, is a form of mining, generally accomplished through drilling.

Modern mining methods begin with the prospecting for ore bodies, an analysis of the potential profit, extraction of the ore, and reclamation of the land once mining operations have ceased.

The four most common methods of mining are underground, open surface, placer, and in-situ mining.

Underground mining is used to extract resources that are too far underground for surface mining to be economical. The technologies used for underground mining vary according to the type of ore being mined, the composition of surrounding rock, the shape and orientation of the ore body, and other geologic features, as well as economic considerations. Important considerations in underground mining include ventilation to clear toxic gases and dust, escape routes, the transport of ore, and communications systems, with ventilation being the most important.

There are several types of surface mining, the most common being open-pit mining, strip mining, and quarrying. Open-pit mining usually results in a large hole being formed in the process of extraction, but it may also result in a portion of a hill or mountaintop being removed. The process of strip mining is to uncover a long, narrow strip of mineral by way of a dragline, a large shovel, or another type of excavator. After the mineral has been removed, an adjacent strip is usually uncovered, with its waste material deposited into the trench left during the excavation of the first strip. There are two types of quarrying. The first is the excavation of ornamental stone blocks of a specific color, size, shape, and quality. The other is more similar to open-pit mining and applied to the excavation of sand, gravel, or crushed stone used in construction.

Placer mining is a method of separating various mining materials, such as the separation of gold from hard gravel or sand. It is an ancient method of mining for gold, in particular. In its simplest form, it is commonly known as panning for gold. More industrial forms of placer mining include the rocker method, the sluicing method, and dry washing, the latter used when water is not available.

In-situ mining is used to extract minerals from underground without digging them up. This process involves the injection of a solution (liquid, gas, slurry) into the ore body, and then extracting the minerals from the solution. This method begins with the drilling of holes into the ore deposit, after which the holes are filled with a chemical solution that reacts with the ore, breaking it down and releasing the desired minerals, which can then be pumped to the surface. This method is often used to extract minerals such as copper and uranium.

Drilling is a type of mining in which a drill bit is used to cut a hole into the earth's subsurface in order to extract oil, natural gas, or water. Drilling rigs can be integrative systems using massive structures housing equipment, or they can be small enough to be moved manually by one person.

Drilling rigs may be used to sample subsurface mineral deposits, to test the physical properties of rock, soil, and groundwater, and to install subsurface fabrications, such as underground utilities, instrumentation, tunnels, or wells. Rigs can be mobile equipment mounted on trucks, or more permanent structures on land, or on the water, such as oil platforms, and might be known as offshore oil rigs, even if they don't contain a drilling rig.

Small drilling rigs are mobile, and may be used in mineral exploration drilling, water wells, or creating a blast hole, while larger rigs can drill through thousands of meters of the earth's crust.



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