Surface mining is done by removing (stripping) surface vegetation, dirt, and if necessary, layers of bedrock in order to reach buried ore deposits. Techniques of surface mining include; Open-pit mining which consists of recovery of materials from an open pit in the ground, quarrying or gathering building materials from an open pit mine, strip mining which consists of stripping surface layers off to reveal ore/seams underneath, and mountaintop removal, commonly associated with coal mining, which involves taking the top of a mountain off to reach ore deposits at depth. Most (but not all) placer deposits, because of their shallowly buried nature, are mined by surface methods. Landfill mining, finally, involves sites where landfills are excavated and processed.
Sub-surface mining consists of digging tunnels or shafts into the earth to reach buried ore deposits. Ore, for processing, and waste rock, for disposal, are brought to the surface through the tunnels and shafts. Sub-surface mining can be classified by the type of access shafts used, the extraction method or the technique used to reach the mineral deposit. Drift mining utilizes horizontal access tunnels, slope mining uses diagonally sloping access shafts and shaft mining consists of vertical access shafts. Mining in hard and soft rock formations require different techniques.
Other methods include shrinkage stope mining which is mining upward creating a sloping underground room, long wall mining which is grinding a long ore surface underground and room and pillar which is removing ore from rooms while leaving pillars in place to support the roof of the room. Room and pillar mining often leads to retreat mining which is removing the pillars which support rooms, allowing the room to cave in, loosening more ore. Additional sub-surface mining methods include hard rock mining which is mining of hard materials, bore hole mining, drift and fill mining, long hole slope mining, sub level caving and block caving.
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