The mining is part of the mining industry ( Latin mons , mountain ' ). It is used to describe the prospecting and development ( exploration ), extraction and processing of mineral resources from the upper crust of the earth using technical equipment and aids.
According to the modern, comprehensive definition, mining includes the required surveying ( mine clearance ), mine management tasks ( ventilation and water drainage ), social security systems ( miners' funds ), special training centers ( e.g. mining academies ) and mining supervisory authorities . As a Montanist we all referred to mining-related issues. In the German-speaking world, the terms mining , extraction of raw materials of mineral and fossil origin, and mining and metallurgy were and are also common. The extraction of geothermal energy also belongs to the mining sector.
Mining activities are regulated worldwide by the respective mining law within national legislation.
Today the extent and location of the deposits are mostly investigated by geophysical exploration . This preparatory work is often carried out outside the mining sector, by scientific institutions and authorities. From prehistory to modern times, many deposits - for example ore veins - have been discovered through their visibility on the earth's surface ( outcrops ). The mining of deposits in the deep sea will become increasingly important in the future .
In Germany, mining is basically regulated by the Federal Mining Act, in other countries by comparable legal provisions. The public body to which legal control is entrusted is called the mining authority , in Austria the mining authority . In Switzerland, jurisdiction under mining law lies with the cantons.
Prehistoric and early historical mining
The oldest form of raw material extraction, known as mining, goes back to the occasional use of flint deposits in the Stone Age . Small work teams went to flint mines for a few days to obtain raw material for the manufacture of equipment. In Stone Age cultures (North America, New Guinea), this method of working has been maintained in some cases up to the present day. The exploitation of Mediterranean obsidian deposits is also considered the work of casual miners.
A permanent or seasonal mining operation requires agriculture with surpluses and trade, as the miners have to be fed without being able to produce food themselves and produce more products themselves than the community can use. The prerequisites for this were usually only given in the Copper Age ( Naqada culture / copper mines of Timna in Egypt). Iran's copper mines are Stone Age and over 6,500 years old. The heyday of the Cypriot mines began 4,000 years ago.
There was probably around 3000 BC. Already ore mines in India and China . A on 3000 BC Gold mine dated to the 3rd century BC is documented in Georgia. Around 2500 BC The copper mining began in Central Germany . Iron ore was used from around 800 BC. Mined in the Alps . In Central Germany, a furnace from the La Tène period in Wilnsdorf bears witness to mining around 500 BC. From. The mining of hard coal has been known in England since the 9th century .
- in Great Britain ( Grimes Graves 2300-1700 BC),
- in France, Belgium and Holland ( Rijckholt , approx. 4500-2500 BC),
- in Germany, Jutland and Poland.
The prehistoric miners sank up to 15 m deep shafts in flint bearing layers and laid routes . Hoes made from deer antlers and stone were used as tools. In Obourg in Belgium an abortive prehistoric was Bergmann found with his equipment.
The great demand of the advanced cultures of the Middle East for metals was met early on from European mines, which were probably opened up by prospectors . Copper mines in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were dated to the 4th millennium BC ( BC ) by ceramic finds. In Rudna Glava ( Serbia ) vertical shafts penetrate 25 m deep into the mountain. In Kőszeg , Hungary , archaeologists found next to an old copper mine a forge with metal bars, bronze remains and clay nozzles from bellows, clay inserts for molds, a clay crucible and over 50 stone molds. Stone molds and devices that point to such workshops are also known from Špania Dolina ( Slovakia ), Great Britain ( Alderley Edge , Cheshire ) and Ireland ( Mount Gabriel ).
The best-researched copper mining area in Europe is that of Mitterberg in the Salzburg region . There was there in the late 2nd millennium BC 32 BC ore mines. Calculations showed that 200 miners, ironworkers and auxiliary workers must have worked here at the same time. The ore was removed from the pit wall by heating the rock and quenching it with water. The Bronze Age shafts were up to 100 m long. The chalcopyrite ore was carried out of the mine in baskets. Shafts that connected the tunnels lying one above the other provided air circulation. Tree trunks ladders with step notches gave the miners access to the tunnels.
The copper mines of the Iberian Peninsula were already 2500 BC. Developed through a Copper Age culture ( Los Millares ). From here the Bell Beaker people spread metallurgical knowledge in Europe. In ancient times the Laurion silver mines were famous. There slaves worked for Athenian citizens. The Romans continued to exploit the old mines in Tartessos, Britain and Dacia (Romania) and opened new ones in other provinces. They introduced new techniques, e.g. B. Bucket wheels to drain the mines, as well as ore washing systems.
Mining in the Middle Ages
The heyday of medieval mining in Central Europe was the 13th century. It declined in the 14th century, mainly because no new deposits were discovered. From the middle of the 15th century a new boom set in.
In the European Middle Ages mainly silver , copper , iron , lead and tin ores were mined. Even the salt mining was important. The monasteries also played a very important role as mountain lords. In many cases, the German miners imparted their expertise in regions further away, for example in France (e.g. Alsace , Vosges ), Hungary , Italy (e.g. copper ore in Tuscany ) and Sweden . The process also took place in the context of eastern colonization . German mining entrepreneurs were involved in Swedish mines.
Important mining areas in the Habsburg monarchy were in Carinthia , Styria , in the Salzkammergut and in Tyrol as far as Trient . The Schwaz silver treasure became a decisive factor in the financing of the Habsburg empire plans.
The first mountain order issued in 1185 by Bishop Albrecht of Trient. The Bergregal was then with the king, in the late Middle Ages it changed to the sovereigns . The Golden Bull also contained a framework under mining law.
In the late Middle Ages, the horse peg was an important relief in conveyor technology . The "frog lamp" made of sheet iron began to prevail over the fragile clay lamps and the expensive cast bronze lamps; The fuel here was animal fat and vegetable oil. Of course, hand tools were used to dismantle them.
Since the development and exploitation of deposits is very time-consuming and cost-intensive, it is important for mining companies to have a high level of contract and investment security. This contrasts with the interests of the state in obtaining the highest possible taxes and duties from mining. Customers and recipient countries want security of supply and low prices.
There are two basic legal understandings and conflict resolution mechanisms with regard to local ownership of natural resources:
- the principle of the mountain shelf and / or mountain freedom . The raw materials are decoupled from property. The mineral resources are claimed either by the sovereign (mountain shelf) or the state (state reservation) and can be lent by them, or they are considered ownerless, whereby ownership of them only arises through state lending,
- the principle of landowner mining . Here the landowner is the owner of the mineral resources. On public land, the finder acquires rights to his find. This view comes from the English common law .
The French Civil Code and the legal systems based on it represent a mediating point of view. The aboveground mineral resources belong to the landowner, those underground to the state.
Depending on the location, course and development of raw materials, this also results in conflicts due to different legal traditions, regional authorities and contractual regulations.
The discovery or possible development of extensive raw material deposits can exacerbate existing territorial conflicts and problematic border-drawing issues, as well as lead to new legal instruments. An example is the 200-mile zone for coastal states. Successful cross-border conflict settlements such as the European Coal and Steel Community (as the forerunner organization of the EU ), the North Sea Oil or the Spitsbergen Treaty established a stable basis for international cooperation.
Mining raw materials
The raw materials extracted in mining can be divided into three large groups: element, energy and property raw materials.
- Ores : An enrichment of metals or metal-containing minerals such as gold , iron ores (hematite and others), galena , zinc blende .
- Salts: e.g. B. rock salt , potash salts , saltpeter , borates , nitrates
- Elemental sulfur
- Hydrocarbons : crude oil and natural gas (associated with these are: asphalt , earth wax , bitumen and oil shale ).
- Coal : lignite , bituminous coal and anthracite , peat , sapropel coal ( caustobiolites ).
- Uranium : raw material for the production of nuclear energy .
- Geothermal energy : Also: geothermal energy , the basis for the use of geothermal energy in the heat and electricity market.
- Industrial minerals e.g. B. kaolin (clay), mica , asbestos , feldspar , quartz and quartzite, graphite , talc , magnesite , alums , vitriols
- Bulk raw materials such as limestone , dolomite , sand , gravel , clay , trass and gypsum (for the production of building materials ), bentonite , colored earth , phosphates , diatomite
- Precious and semi-precious stones z. B. diamonds , emeralds , rubies , garnets , amber
Methods of raw material extraction
A distinction is made between three methods of extraction for the development and extraction of raw materials that can be extracted by mining:
- the open pit : near-surface resources are recovered by excavation in open pits
- the civil engineering (underground) : production in a mine. Access to the deposit is made with tunnels and / or shafts .
- the drilling boreholes : raw materials by deep drilling obtained from above ground. This includes oil and gas production, as well as brine from salts in salt mining .
Environmental impacts and economic upheavals caused by mining facilities are documented early on. From the Middle Ages to the modern age you can find many reports of the so-called " mountain screams " and gold rushes . Dumps and smelting in the vicinity of the mines led to the development of galme flora and heavy metal lawns in the Middle Ages .
The environmental history considered mining in the area of industrialization as the basis of change of industrial and cultural landscapes and their change. According to Günter Bayerl , as early as the 18th and 19th centuries, the landscape was transformed into industrial areas and metropolitan areas like rehabilitated and regulated 'quasi' nature . The special experiences of the new federal states are relevant for the consideration of the classic mining areas in the west. In East Germany before and after the fall of the Wall, there was, according to Bayerl, the phenomenon of environmental protection through standstill due to industrial shutdown and population emigration .
When setting up a mine, an infrastructure must be created that enables removal, regardless of the type of raw material extraction . If the mining area is - as is often the case today - in remote wilderness regions, the construction of roads or railways and the creation of workers' settlements inevitably have a far-reaching impact on the natural environment. Experience shows that in the course of time further facilities and thus new settlements and further roads emerge along the traffic routes, which at least intensify the subdivision of natural landscapes and the destruction of habitats .
A large number of the conflict areas of indigenous peoples can be traced back to measures to extract raw materials. A vivid example of the subsequent developments in mining projects is the construction of the ore railway in Swedish Lapland , which has played a key role in the development of the scarcely populated north since the end of the 19th century.
Opencast mining in particular - which is assuming ever larger dimensions due to the increasing demand for raw materials - is the most massive form of landscape change and has far-reaching effects on the natural balance and the water table in the regions concerned. When it comes to the destruction of natural ecosystems that have not been influenced so far, open-cast mining now ranks first in comparison with agriculture, settlement and traffic. Sometimes settlements are also affected that have to give way to opencast mining. A well-known political issue in this context is the Garzweiler opencast mine in the Lower Rhine Bay . On the other hand, there are also opportunities for renewal in the context of recultivation measures. Opened pits and quarries can become valuable biotopes. The establishment, drainage, ventilation and protection as well as the subsequent use of mines and the associated coal and steel industry result in a multitude of innovations and innovations in the legal, planning, entrepreneurial and technical environment.
In addition to the aforementioned effects, mining can lead to various emissions of toxic substances into the air and water. Major environmental scandals of this kind with considerable health risks for the population were known from the gold mines in South America, where large amounts of highly toxic mercury were released into the environment. Other problematic substances in the extraction of metallic ores are phosphorus and sulfur compounds, heavy metals or radioactive substances in the extraction of uranium. When it comes to oil and gas production, a. in Western Siberia or in the Niger Delta through permanently defective systems (drilling rigs, pipelines, etc.) to enormous contamination of soils and waters, which depending on the ecology can be irreversible.
According to the World Nuclear Association , coal in all deposits contains traces of various radioactive substances, especially radon , uranium and thorium . When coal is extracted, especially from open-cast mines , through exhaust gases from power stations or through the power station ash, these substances are released and contribute to terrestrial radiation exposure through their exposure path .
In December 2009 it became known that millions of tons of radioactive residues are produced annually in the production of oil and natural gas , the majority of which are disposed of without evidence and improperly, including 226 radium and 210 polonium . The specific activity of the waste is between 0.1 and 15,000 Becquerel per gram. In Germany, according to the Radiation Protection Ordinance of 2011 , the material already requires monitoring from one Becquerel per gram and must be disposed of separately. The implementation of this regulation has been left to the responsibility of the industry; for decades it disposed of the waste carelessly and improperly.
While the mining companies in the industrialized countries are making efforts to prevent or minimize these emissions, the requirements and measures in the countries of the third world are often inadequate.
Examples of significant environmental impacts of various mines see u. a. → Yanacocha (Peru, gold), → Chuquicamata (Chile, copper) → Rössing mine (Namibia, uranium) → Grasberg mine (West Papua, gold and copper) → Pangunamine (Papua New Guinea, copper) → Lusatian lignite mining area ( Germany) → El Cerrejón (Colombia, hard coal) → McArthur River uranium mine (Canada, uranium) → Niger Delta (Nigeria, conventional oil) → Athabasca tar sands (Canada, unconventional oil) → Bayan Obo mine (People's Republic of China, rare Earth )
The American Blacksmith Institute has been determining the top 10 most contaminated places on earth since 2006 . Mining companies are often among the polluters. Worth mentioning here are Kabwe in Zambia (lead and cadmium), Norilsk in northern Siberia (nickel, copper, cobalt, lead), Dalnegorsk in the far east of Russia (lead, cadmium, mercury, antimony), Sukinda in northeast India (chromium ) or Tianying in central China (lead and other heavy metals).
Mining professions and universities
Over the centuries, a large number of job profiles in mining have emerged.
Today is in Germany at three montane scientific (including universities Bergakademie called), Freiberg University of Mining and Technology , the Technical University of Clausthal and the Rhine-Westphalian Technical University of Aachen mining related courses offered. The Georg Agricola Technical University in Bochum and several other mountain schools also offer mining-related courses.
- List of active mines in Germany
- List of closed mines in Germany
- List of mining accidents
- Mining area
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