Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, SP 07-95, 1995 Jan; :1-31
Mining is the branch of industry involving the exploration and removal of minerals from the earth. Mining is one of the oldest and most important endeavors of humankind, because it provides the raw ingredients for most of the material world around us and, like agriculture, is the lifeblood of civilization. The main objective of any type of mining is to remove the valuable material economically and safely with minimum damage to the surrounding environment. The Earth has many natural resources on which we depend that must be mined. Coal, oil, gas, and other mineral fuels are used for heating, electricity, and numerous industrial processes. Nonfuel minerals such as iron ore, precious metals, and industrial metals, and nonmetallic materials like sodium and potassium are used in chemical and agricultural applications. Even crushed stone used in road building and other construction projects must be mined. Mining affects our standard of living and impacts almost everything we do. A myriad of items that we use in our homes and offices and for transportation, communications, and national defense all require minerals. For example, more than 30 different minerals are needed to make a television or telephone! Minerals are vital to any industrialized civilization. The United States uses more than 3.6 billion t (4 billion st) of new mineral materials yearly, or about 18,000 kg (40,000 lb) per person, with about half constituting mineral fuels and the other half being metals and nonmetals. Stable and economic domestic mining, mineral, metal, and mineral reclamation industries are essential to our economy and our national defense. The value of processed (nonfuel) materials of mineral origin produced in the United States totaled approximately $360 billion in 1994. The mineral extractive industries play a critical role in the vitality of our Nation's economy, in our standard of living, and in our personal lives.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, SP 07-95