Surface mining is the best way to extract minerals close to the surface of the earth. Surface mining is usually more economical than underground mining. Surface mining is the best way to extract common minerals like iron, coal, and bauxite.

Open-pit mining offers many advantages:

  • To move large quantities of rock, operations can use powerful trucks or shovels.
  • Equipment is not limited by the size of the opening.
  • It speeds up production.
  • Due to the lower cost, it is economically feasible to mine lower grades of ore.

Open-pit mining follows a simple pattern: Drilling, blasting, loading, hauling, and then dumping.

There are advantages and disadvantages to open-pit mining compared with underground mining. Open-pit mining is more affordable, can recover more resources (often up to 100%), is safer, and can be used for larger-scale mining equipment which leads to higher production rates.

Mine Productivity

Underground mining is more expensive because it requires more capital. For example, coal companies have to drill deeper and use more complex machines.

Subsurface mining is the extraction of ore below the surface. It must be as safe as possible, as economical as possible, and without generating as much waste. An adit or shaft, or decline, is a way to get from the surface into an underground mine.

Underground mining techniques include room and column, narrow vein stopping, and large-scale mechanized.

Room and Pillar Mining is a method of mining that involves tunnels being driven in a chessboard-like pattern, with huge square pillars interspersed between them. This allows for gradual cutting as the work progresses. This mining method is used to mine coal.

The narrow vein stopping is done underground along geological “veins”: These distinct, sheet-like bodies made of crystallized minerals within a rock are extracted and mined. Underground mine stopping is only possible if miners excavate for engine rooms, pump chambers, or access to shafts. This mining method is used for mining platinum.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Systems! For nearly a half a century, Becker Mining has been at the forefront of industry safety. Becker/SMC is the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical control systems. Most of the major innovations, design features and specialized electrical components have been developed by Becker/SMC.