Problems Associated with Mining —
Stages of Pre-mining are minimum compared to whole life cycle of mining operation in any mining industry but it is the hardest step to acquire license and necessary authority from govt. to start mining operation.
Prospecting: main problems associated with this step are-
a. Getting prospecting lease from govt.
b. Skilled manpower for reconnaissance
c. Skilled manpower for survey
a. Getting mining lease from govt. is a very very big task
b. Getting permission for exploration from govt. is also a big task
a. Skilled worker
b. Problems of getting robust drill rig within budget
c. Exploration hole deviation
d. Gathering all the rock and ore information in required format for geology and geo-tech engineer.
e. Defining the ore body is also an issue
f. Calculating the ore reserve
g. Block modeling
After getting permission for mining operation, you can start mining but only a production can visualize how hard is it to excavate ore within limited budget and time frame. In each and every step challenges are there. Let’s see what they are—
Accessing the ore body: In open cast operation, huge waste excavation is there to reach the ore body, if the ore body is not extended to earth surface, and in UG operation, shaft, drives and crosscuts need to be excavated to reach the ore body. Generally a lot of challenges are there during each of these steps. i.e.—
a. Co-ordination between planning-scheduling and implementation is very much challenging job for management because making ramp system for open cast mining is very big task as gradient maintaining, cross slope making, super elevation and culverts making is not so easy process. And excavating shaft is also very very big task and safety issue in U?G operation.
During Ore and waste mining:
a. Productivity: Many experts agree the largest issue facing mining is productivity. In the case of low grade ore bodies, it is very important to remove as much of the desired ore from the mined material as possible in order for the mining operation to remain economically feasible. Miners must not only monitor the incoming material to maximize the extraction process, but the waste material must be monitored just as closely to ensure that none of the valuable minerals are lost.
b. Process control: Variation in the ore body at a mine site can create extraction issues. A constant raw material analysis is needed to maintain accurate process control because if the composition of the ore body changes, the extraction process will need to change just as quickly.
c. Grade control: Ore grade control is also a big challenge to minimize dilution.
d. Aging workforce / Skilled people attraction: According to a recent study by SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration) “Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Mining Industry”, in 2019 the industry will need almost 80,000 extra replacement workers due to retirement (total of 128,000 new positions will be required by 2019).
Not only in the USA, in India also aging of workforce and retirement a big issue to get skilled manpower.
e. Slope instability issue/ Ground control issue: Slope instability is very common problem in all open pit mine and waste dump. Prism and Inclinometer is common instrument to detect slope instability but recently Slope Stability Radar (SSR) has been developed to predict perfectly the time of failure. But getting perfect engineer to install and run SSR is a big issue.
In UG, Ground control is also very big issue due to different rock structure in different areas and DIANE behavior of rock.
f. Water: Water has always been crucial for the mining industry and its importance is increasing exponentially. As volume reference, according to USGS an estimated 4,020 million gallons per day was required for mining purposes (2005). This amount represents 1% of the total industry water usage.
a. Environmental Regulations: Mining processes produce large volumes of waste, some of it highly toxic. This waste can result in acid mine drainage and groundwater contamination, and needs close monitoring to ensure that it has been neutralized before being returned to the earth.
b. Tailing disposal: Disposal of mill tailing is very crucial and environmentally it is also a big issue.
1. Christopher Shaffer; 2014; Key Issues Facing the Mining Industry in 2014
2. Abio Mielli; 2013; Top challenges faced by the mining industry and its implications (Part 1)
3. www. Wikipedia.org