Mining and heavy equipment

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Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually (but not always) from an ore body, vein or (coal) seam. Materials recovered by mining include bauxite, coal, copper, gold, silver, diamonds, iron, precious metals, lead, limestone, magnesite, nickel, phosphate, oil shale, rock salt, tin, uranium and molybdenum. Any material that cannot be grown from agricultural processes, or created artificially in a laboratory or factory, is usually mined. Mining in a wider sense comprises extraction of any non-renewable resource (e.g., petroleum, natural gas, or even water).

Heavy machinery is needed in mining for exploration and development, to remove and stockpile overburden, to break and remove rocks of various hardness and toughness, to process the ore and for reclamation efforts after the mine is closed. Bulldozers, drills, explosives and trucks are all necessary for excavating the land. In the case of placer mining, unconsolidated gravel, or alluvium, is fed into machinery consisting of a hopper and a shaking screen or trommel which frees the desired minerals from the waste gravel. The minerals are then concentrated using sluices or jigs.

Large drills are used to sink shafts, excavate stopes and obtain samples for analysis. Trams are used to transport miners, minerals and waste. Lifts carry miners into and out of mines, as well as moving rock and ore out, and machinery in and out of underground mines. Huge trucks, shovels and cranes are employed in surface mining to move large quantities of overburden and ore. Processing plants can utilize large crushers, mills, reactors, roasters and other equipment to consolidate the mineral-rich material and extract the desired compounds and metals from the ore.

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