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The Mine Craft

With Minecraft becoming increasingly popular amongst children, we find mining has become one of the most talked about industries. Many children want to be miners, digging for diamonds with their pickaxes!

Mining, however, is considered one of the most dangerous occupations. Most miners have to work in very dark and cramped conditions with little ventilation. Use of explosives comes with the dangers of falling roofs, stones and other debris. Miners are exposed to high levels of dust, heat and harmful gasses. We don’t see all of this in a game of Minecraft!

Let’s learn more about mining.

What is mining?

Mining is the process of digging and extracting valuable minerals and rocks from the Earth. It is one of the oldest industries. We have been mining for precious stones and metals since ancient times. In fact, early history is divided into eras based on what metals were used – for example, the Bronze Age.

There are many ways in which we mine. Some mines are only a few metres deep while others travel many kilometers underground.

Surface Mining

Surface mining is done when the rocks and minerals are less than 200 feet below the ground. Huge machines are used to remove the topsoil and rocks. There are three main kinds of surface mining:

Open pit mining: Taking materials out by digging an open pit. Mountain top removal: Cutting into a mountain to recover minerals. Strip mining: Stripping surface layers off to access an ore under it.

Underground Mining

Underground mining is done when minerals are buried deeper than 200 feet below the ground. Deep wells or shafts are dug to transport the miners and machinery to mine.

Drift mining: It uses horizontal access tunnels, dug into the side of mountains or hills. Slope mining: As the name suggests, is the making of diagonal or sloping shafts. Shaft mining: The process of making vertical shafts to access minerals. Usually a train transports the material and miners!

The three most popular methods of mining are open pit (also called opencast), drift and shaft.

Mining in India

Mining provides approximately 2-3% to our GDP. Since it is a primary industry, a number of large industries such as the Iron & Steel industry, depend on the raw materials from these mines. This would take the overall GDP contribution to be a lot more.

India produces 89 minerals, out of which 4 are mineral fuels, 11 are metals, 52 are non-metallic and the remaining 22 are minor minerals. Mica, iron ore, bauxite, coal, chromite and manganese are some of the largest. The country is the third largest producer of iron ore.

Environmental Issues

Mining has becomes a part of human existence. People are dependent on many of the materials we mine - coal for fuel, metals for industry and stone for construction. Mining, however, causes a huge negative impact on our environment and totally destroys the vegetation and wildlife in the area around it.

  •     Air pollution: Surface mines produce dust and other pollutants due to the use of explosives. Coal mines release methane.
  •     Water: Mining uses large amounts of water.
  •     Land: Movement of rocks and removal of soil and vegetation, impacts erosion and overall vegetation and wildlife .
  •     Health and safety: Concern for people around mining areas, including workers.
  •     Noise pollution: Noise and vibration due to blasting and operation of the machines drive away the wild animals and birds from nearby forests.

Abandoned mines are not a pretty sight. Given that most of the soil is destroyed, it takes decades for the area to recover and revive.

A large part of our oldest fold mountain range, the Aravalis, is full of abandoned mining sites. Some efforts are being made to revive these old forests but little is not enough.

Expert Advice


We don't grow into creativity!

It is not what we know that is important today, but what we do with it! It is our ability to analyze, think out of the box, ideate and create. We need creativity to get on with our lives. Finding that next tagline, strategy or product at work or resolving a tussle at home or even finding a quick fix to a leaking pipe!

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