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Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an ore body, vein or (coal) seam. Any material that cannot be grown and harvested through agricultural processes (such as farming or forestry), or created artificially in a laboratory or factory, is usually mined. Materials recovered by mining include metals, ranging from base metals (such as iron and lead) to precious metals (such as gold and silver) to uranium, as well as coal, gemstones, limestone, marble, oil shale, rock salt, guano and potash. Mining in a wider sense comprises extraction of any non-renewable resource (e.g., petroleum, natural gas, or even water).

Mining has long been an essential part of human civilization and technology. In the Neolithic Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, mining provided the stone, copper and tin to make the bronze, and the iron. Discoveries of valuable minerals have sparked gold and silver rushes, leading to the mass migration of many thousands of individuals to places around the world. With the invention of the steam engine, coal mining became critical to fueling the Industrial Revolution. Newer technologies such as nuclear power and consumer electronics have increased demands for previously unimportant minerals, leading to new cycles of mineral discovery and mining.

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Rhyolite is a mining ghost town in Nye County, Nevada, United States. It is in the Bullfrog Hills, about 120 miles (190 km) northwest of Las Vegas, near the eastern edge of Death Valley. The town began in early 1905 after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills, leading to a gold rush. By 1907, Rhyolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, an opera house, and a stock exchange, yet it declined almost as rapidly as it rose. The richest ore was quickly exhausted, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 made it more difficult to raise development capital. In 1908, the mining company's stock value crashed; it closed in 1911. By 1920, the population was close to zero, after which its buildings crumbled, were salvaged for building materials, or were moved to nearby Beatty. Rhyolite and its ruins have since become a tourist attraction.

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Wieliczka, Jana Matejki; Kopalnia soli- kierat konny węgierski; A-580; 01.jpg
Credit: Kriskos

Underground horse mill from the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland, a salt mine worked for over six centuries


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Surface mining
Credit: Raymond

Panorama of the Garzweiler surface mine, a lignite coal mine in Germany



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