What is a mineral?

   It is a naturally occurring, pure, non-
    living substance found in the rocks of
    the earth
   Canada’s mineral wealth can be divided
    into three groups
    – Metallic Minerals
    – Fossil Fuels
    – Industrial Minerals
           Metallic Minerals
   When refined these minerals give us
   Examples – Gold, silver, platinum, iron,
               Fossil Fuels

   Any mineral that can be burned to
    produce energy
   In the 1800s coal was the most
   Recently, oil and gas have replaced
    coal for many uses
          Industrial Minerals

   All things that are mined that are not
    metallic or fossil fuels
   Examples – sand, asbestos, potash,
    gypsum, soap stone, diamond
Importance of Mining in Canada
    Canada ranks third in the world in the
     production of minerals
    Canada exports about 80% of what it
    In 2001 mineral production made $83 billion
    Since WWII a lot of the railway and road
     expansion has been completed so that
     minerals could be extracted from remote
     Finding Valuable Minerals

   Minerals are only mined if they are
    found in concentrations that make them
    economically viable
   Minerals that are economically viable to
    mine are called mineral reserves
   It is a geologists job to find mineral
Looking for Metallic Minerals
   Geologist can find the mineral deposits by:
    – Going over an area with a machine called a
      magnetometer – it checks for magnetic fields
      produced by the minerals
    – They can use satellite images and areal photos
    – All the data they collect is analyzed using GIS
    – They also go directly to the area to collect
      samples – water and rock
    – If everything looks good they take core samples to
      find out what is in the area
    Now its time to start mining!
   Most mineral deposits are found in remote
    areas therefore towns need to be built for the
   Once the towns are in place its time to start
    extracting the minerals
   There are three types of mining that can be
    – Strip
    – Open Pit
    – Shaft (Underground Mining)
                   Shaft Mining
   Some ore bodies are more
    economically mined using
    underground methods.
   In this case a tunnel called
    an adit, or a shaft, is dug
    into the earth.
   The surface containing the
    ore, called a face, is drilled
    and loaded with explosives.
   Following blasting, the
    broken ore is loaded into
    trucks and taken to the
       Open Pit or Strip Mining
   Open Pit mines involve digging large open
    holes in the ground as opposed to a small
    shaft in hard rock mining.
   Strip Mining is very similar to open pit mining
    however the hole are much shallower.
   Open pit and stip mines are very large and
    can devastate the surrounding landscape.
      What happens after the
    mineral is out of the ground?
   Most ore that is mined is composed
    mostly of waste rock
   Most ore has to go through two
    processes before it becomes pure:
    – milling and smelting
          Milling and Smelting
   Milling
    – Separated the mineral from some of the waste
    – Usually done on site
   Smelting
    – Ore concentrate and a substance called flux are
      melted together
    – The flux binds with all the waste material and the
      pure minerals float to the top of the mixture
    – The minerals are then skimmed off the top and
      poured into molds
    – This process is very expensive and may be done
      off site.
            Waste Materials

   The waste materials from milling and
    smelting are called taillings
   Tailings are a mixture of water,
    chemicals and rock particles
   They are extremely poisonous
   Tailings are kept in tailing ponds that
    are specially designed to contain the
   The cost of transporting ore to the mills for
    processing is high.
   Sometimes transport costs can be over
    come by building the processing plant near
    the mine.
    – causes the community to become more
       Increasing Technology

   Technology has changed in the mining
    – bigger equipment
    – able to extract deposits more efficiently
    – finding new ways to use different minerals
   These changes in technology are
    helping mining companies turn a greater
Issues Facing the Mining Industry
    Negative impact on the environment
    50% of the minerals are exported to other
     countries before they are processed – leads
     to a loss of jobs
    Because the industry relies on exports they
     are greatly effected by what is going on in
     other countries
    The highest quality reserves are being
    New mineral deposits are being discovered in
     other countries

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