Mining is an integral part of our economy, as well as one of the oldest industrial pursuits in human history. From ancient times to today, civilization owes much of both its luxuries and its essentials to mining.
The metals and minerals we rely on in our everyday life are staggering. If you really take a moment to think about it, look around to observe the objects you are surrounded by which are not manufactured by plant-based resources. From the cement you walk on to the screen you are reading, our world and our way of life depends on the products of modern mining practices.
How much of your daily life is made possible by the by-products of mining? Sure, you probably appreciate your car and your jewelry — but did you know that the computer you depend on for work, your smartphone, your drywall in your house, roofing materials, pavement, concrete and even the electricity running your home on wouldn’t exist without the hard work of the mining industry? Basically; if it can’t be grown it has to be mined.
Not only is mining essential — it’s also been deeply entwined with human culture since its beginning. From prehistoric times through today, society has depended on the industry for the materials we’ve used to shape our world.
Mining in the Ancient World
Evidence of mining activities has been discovered from days well before recorded history. The oldest of these ancient mines was found in Swaziland in Africa, where the remains of tools and signs of activities around a soft haematite ore deposit were carbon dated to 41,000 BCE.
Mining began to truly evolve with Roman innovations, including aqueducts, according to ancient history. This architectural invention was used to power mill machines, together creating a prototype for the on-site materials processing center. The aqueducts would also fill large tanks for techniques like hushing and fire-quenching.
Hushing consisted of unleashing the tanks of water into the mine to wash away earth and expose the resource being extracted below. In fire-quenching, water was released from the tanks to fracture rock that had been previously heated. The quick cooling of the stone would cause it to break and reveal vital metals for collection.
Today, the state of mining is just as vibrant as it has been throughout history. Coal, and other metals are very essential to our day-to-day lives and their extraction and production remains one of the most important industries in the world. A truly international pursuit, modern mining techniques are providing emerging economies with an opportunity to join the world market in a major way.
A focus of modern mining practices is the use of the most efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly methods possible. There are many organizations that provide the industry with the best solutions to streamline their operations, especially when it comes to environmental, safety, resource management, dust control and reclamation.
This provides a safe environment for everyone — both mine workers and the surrounding community and environment.