Mining is a complicated process, and the decisions to mine underground rather than above ground must be carefully considered. Subsurface mining offers several potential advantages, including access to minerals and ores that are otherwise difficult or impossible to reach using traditional open-pit mining techniques.
In this article, we will explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of subsurface mining.
Advantages of Subsurface Mining
Pinpoint the location of materials and perform efficient extraction:
It can also provide greater efficiency in the extraction process as miners do not need to waste time hauling material up from deeper areas. In surface mining, larger areas need to be excavated to recover materials, and this can lead to extra use of resources.
Minimizes Environmental Impact
Since subsurface mining does not require the removal of large amounts of overburden on top of the ore, it is much more environmentally friendly than open-pit mining. It also requires less energy and can be completed in a shorter period.
It is Safer
Subsurface mines are some of the safest, according to records kept by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. They have less risk of surface hazards like flooding, subsidence, and landslides that can occur with open-pit mining. The vast terrains can lead to less human contact with machines and equipment, leading to another factor in the safety of subsurface mining.
Subsurface mining uses various methods for survey to locate deposits underground. This makes the miners more precise and less wasteful when extracting materials. By using an advanced tunneling method, subsurface mining can access valuable minerals easier than surface mining, making it more profitable in some cases.
Disadvantages of Subsurface Mining
The conditions of subsurface mining can be hazardous to the miners. Since they are underground, miners may need to use safety equipment and protective clothing which can be costly. Coal dust or other air particles can also cause respiratory problems. In addition, the tunnels are sometimes unstable, and there is a risk of cave-ins.
It impacts Water Quality
Mining deep into the earth can disrupt groundwater and aquifers and cause water contamination from the seepage of mining chemicals. This can lead to health risks for people living near the mining site.
It Has an Adverse Effect on the Surrounding Soil
Disturbing the earth underneath the surface can cause a loss of vegetation and soil fertility. This can leave the land unsuitable for subsequent use, such as farming or recreation.
It Requires Specialized Equipment and a Higher Skill Level
Subsurface mining requires more intricate knowledge and techniques than surface mining. This means miners need a higher skill level and specialized equipment, making it more expensive to start a mining site. Even though it can be more profitable over time, the initial costs of setting up a subsurface mine can be high.
Overall, there are both advantages and disadvantages to subsurface mining. It is important to weigh these factors carefully before deciding if this type of mining is right for your project. Subsurface mining can offer several potential benefits, such as lower environmental impact and increased safety. However, it also has several disadvantages, such as the potential for hazardous conditions and water contamination. These factors can help you decide if subsurface mining suits your project.
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