Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually from an orebody, lode, vein, seam, reef or placer deposit. These deposits form a mineralized package that is of economic interest to the miner.
Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal, oil shale, gemstones, limestone, chalk, dimension stone, rock salt, potash, gravel, and clay. Mining is required to obtain any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes, or created artificially in a laboratory or factory. Mining in a wider sense includes extraction of any non-renewable resource such as petroleum, natural gas, or even water.
Mining of stones and metal has been a human activity since pre-historic times. Modern mining processes involve prospecting for ore bodies, analysis of the profit potential of a proposed mine, extraction of the desired materials, and final reclamation of the land after the mine is closed. De Re Metallica, Georgius Agricola, 1550, Book I, Para. 1
Mining operations usually create a negative environmental impact, both during the mining activity and after the mine has closed. Hence, most of the world's nations have passed regulations to decrease the impact. Work safety has long been a concern as well, and modern practices have significantly improved safety in mines.
Levels of metals recycling are generally low. Unless future end-of-life recycling rates are stepped up, some rare metals may become unavailable for use in a variety of consumer products. Due to the low recycling rates, some landfills now contain higher concentrations of metal than mines themselves.
A bal maiden
, from the Cornish language bal
(mine) and the English maiden
(young or unmarried woman), was a female manual labourer in the mining industries
and the bordering areas of western Devon
, at the south-western extremity of Great Britain
. A boom in Cornish mining in the late 17th and early 18th centuries resulted in increasing numbers of women and girls were recruited to the area's mines from about 1720 to the 1770s, processing the ore
sent up by the male miners underground.
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, women and girls were again recruited in large numbers for work in ore processing. Although machinery was capable of performing much of the work done by bal maidens, the industry grew so quickly that the number of women and girls working grew steadily even though their numbers fell as a proportion of the workforce to 15–20% by 1850. At the peak of the Cornish mining boom, in around 1860, at least 6000 bal maidens were working at the region's mines. From the 1860s onward, Cornish mining went into decline In 1891 the number of bal maidens had fallen to half its peak, and by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 very few remained in employment. In 1921 Dolcoath, the last mine to employ bal maidens, ceased operations, bringing the tradition to an end.
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