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The importance of mining for global development


Have you ever stopped to consider the importance of mining for humanity? 

Mining is one of the most important activities for the economic and industrial development of many countries. It consists of the extraction of ores, which are substances found in the earth’s crust that are used for producing various goods and products. The mining sector is responsible for supplying raw materials for the production of metals, fertilizers, cement, ceramics, glass, among others.

Read this blog to learn how mining contributes to driving the Brazilian and world economy. 

Enjoy your reading!

What is mining?

imagem ilustrativa de cava de minério a-importância-da-mineração-(1)

Mining is an activity that involves the extraction of minerals and ores present in the earth’s crust (soil) so as to transform them into products useful for society.

In addition to metal minerals and ores such as iron and copper, mining can also involve extracting non-metallic minerals such as coal, salt, sand, clay, etc.

Here are some of the most common non-metallic minerals:

  • Phosphate: used in producing fertilizers

  • Silica: used in manufacturing glass and ceramics; 

  • Limestone: used in producing cement and lime.

Here are some of the most common types of metal minerals:

  • Iron

  • Copper

  • Aluminum

  • Zinc

  • Lead

  • Nickel

  • Gold

  • Silver

Mining is a complex activity that involves several stages from prospecting and mineral research to mining and processing the ore.

Mineral prospecting and research are the initial stages of mining, which aim to identify areas with mineral potential and determine the quality and quantity of minerals present underground.

These stages involve collecting and analyzing geological, geochemical, and geophysical data, as well as carrying out perforations and samplings.

After identifying the mineralized area, the extraction step begins, which can be carried out in different ways depending on the type of ore and the characteristics of the mineral deposit.

There are different types of extraction such as surface and underground mining. Each of these mining methods have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the geological characteristics and environmental conditions of the mining site.

Surface mining

It is the most common method of mining ore. It is commonly used for low-depth ores such as iron ore, copper, bauxite, coal, gold, and diamonds.

These ores are usually located near the surface and can be extracted with heavy excavation and hauling equipment.

The ore is extracted from large open-pit deposits by removing the surface layer of the soil, rocks, and other materials to expose the ore below.

Surface mining is often used in large mining operations that can involve thousands of acres.

Underground mining

It is usually used for ores that are located at a greater depth such as gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc.

Underground mining is carried out in tunnels and underground tunnels where mining teams use machinery, drilling equipment, explosives, and vehicles to extract the ore.

This method is more expensive than surface mining, but is necessary for extracting ores that cannot be safely extracted from the surface.

In addition to extraction, mining also involves the processing stage, which consists in separating the ore between useful minerals and undesirable minerals.

Processing can involve several techniques such as crushing, grinding, flotation, magnetic separation, among others.

The importance of mining: what are minerals and ores?

imagem ilustrativa A importância da mineração: o que são minerais e minérios

We have talked about both of these extractions in this blog, but do you know what a mineral is? How about what ore is? Although they are often used interchangeably, they refer to different things.

A mineral is a natural, solid, and inorganic substance with a defined chemical composition and a crystalline structure. There are thousands of known minerals ranging from the common ones such as quartz and feldspar to the rare ones such as tourmaline and emerald. Minerals are the raw material of ores.

Ore is a mineral or a combination of minerals that can be exploited economically.

In other words, an ore is a mineral deposit that contains sufficient amounts of a valuable mineral so that the extraction and processing of this mineral can be profitable.

For example, hematite is an iron ore, while quartz is not considered an ore.

Several factors influence whether a mineral can become an exploitable ore. The quantity, quality, and location of the mineral are important factors, as are the technology and extraction and processing costs.

In addition, market demand and prices of the metals and minerals can affect the viability of a mine. In short, minerals are natural, solid, and inorganic substances with a defined chemical composition and a crystalline structure.

Ores on the other hand are minerals or combinations of minerals that can be exploited economically. Summarizing, an ore is a valuable mineral that can be extracted and processed profitably.

What is the importance of mining for the global economy?

Mining is a strategic sector for the global economy and has a significant impact on generating wealth and jobs in many countries.

This sector is responsible for the extraction of various ores such as iron, copper, gold, silver, aluminum, coal, diamonds, lead, zinc, nickel, and uranium, which are used in numerous sectors of the economy such as construction, automotive, energy, and electronics.

In addition, mining has a significant impact on the trade balance of many countries and accounts for much of the exports of many of them. Brazil, for example, is a major producer of iron ore, accounting for an average of 20% of the world’s production.

Another important aspect is the role mining has in generating direct and indirect jobs. Based on the data we have just presented, we can highlight some benefits that reveal the importance of mining for the Brazilian economy, some of which are listed below:

  • Increases the taxes collected; 
  • Enables the advancement of new technologies; 
  • Stimulates local and regional socio-environmental development; 
  • Encourage more efficient energy use; 
  • Promotes environmental awareness trough programs for recovering degraded; 
  • Generates new jobs and livelihoods for local communities.

Conveyor belt for mining

Correias transportadoras para Mineração

Conveyor belts have a key role in the mining industry. They have the role of transporting bulk materials such as ores from one point of the mine or processing plant to another. This means saving time, money, and labor.

They are customizable according to the needs of the operation, making it possible to move the material in different directions and levels. It is important to note that mining is a sector that requires high productivity and efficiency.

Using conveyor belts allows materials to be transported faster and safer, reducing transport time and costs. Conveyor belts are also able to carry large amounts of material in a single operation, which means less manual labor.

With proper use and regular maintenance, conveyor belts can have a service life of months and even years, which means less costs with replacement and equipment maintenance.

In short, they are key to the mining industry as they increase the efficiency, productivity, and safety in operations.

Using such equipment should be accompanied by appropriate care and maintenance to ensure its effectiveness and avoid risks to health and the environment.

Mining must be carried out in a responsible and sustainable manner in order to minimize environmental and social impacts and ensure worker safety.

Mining in Brazil

imagem ilustrativa a-importância-da-mineração-no-Brasil

Mining is a crucial economic activity for Brazil and is one of the main sectors responsible for generating jobs and income in the country.

With a vast territorial extension and a geology rich in ores, Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of various minerals. Among the most important ores to the Brazilian economy are iron ore, gold, bauxite, niobium, and copper.

Mining to produce iron is an especially important sector for Brazil. The country is the second largest producer in the world behind only Australia. The extraction of iron ore is carried out mainly in the state of Minas Gerais, which is responsible for an average of 60% of the national production.

Iron is used in various sectors of the economy such as steel, construction, and automobile industry, contributing significantly to the development of these sectors.

In addition, iron mining is responsible for generating many direct and indirect jobs in the country, contributing to income generation and social development of the regions where the activity is carried out.

Brazil is also an important producer of other ores such as copper and niobium. Copper is a metal widely used in various sectors of the economy such as electric and civil construction.

Niobium is a strategic metal used to produce high-strength alloys and in equipment such as airplane turbines and nuclear reactors. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of niobium, accounting for an average of 85% of global production.

It is worth mentioning that in Brazil there are more than 3,000 mines, of which 159 are considered to be large. Because of that, the mine deposits are distributed across more than 8,000 companies that have the right to mine.

Mining in Brazil, however, faces several challenges such as the need to improve safety and environmental sustainability, as well as becoming more competitive compared with other producing countries.

But with the proper use of the mineral resources available, the sector can continue to be an important source of wealth and development for the country.

Now that you already know the importance of mining, get to know Mercurio Conveyor Belt.

Understanding the importance of mining is fundamental to build meaning into the work with mineral extraction. Now, something that could bring even more meaning and agility to the production of a mining company is to have a partner that offers end-to-end solutions.

For this, you can count on Mercurio Conveyor Belt. It is the largest manufacturer of conveyor belts in Latin America, so we understand all the stages of mining and are able to offer efficient and lasting solutions.

So talk to one of our experts and get to know our products better.

And if this article was useful, check out other publications from the Mercurio Conveyor Belt Blog.