by Alexander VOROBYOV, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Russian University of Peoples' Friendship; Tatyana CHEKUSHINA, Cand. Sc. (Tech.), RAS Institute of Problems of Integrated Development of Mineral Resources
The progress of mining industry has always depended on the level of its technology. In coal mining, for example, the "pickax-basket" era was replaced with that of the "pneumatic drill-trolley" and then with "mining combine- transporter belt". It was only at the end of the 20th century that a fundamentally new physico-chemical technology was developed providing for the extraction of only the "productive share" of mineral deposits, leaving the barren rock behind.
Articles in this rubric reflect the opinion of the author. -Ed.
Volumes of extracted minerals (1) and their utilization (2) in the USSR from 1980 to 1990.
Since time immemorial people have been trying to use mineral resources with maximum efficiency and at minimal labor expenses. Today we witness the results of this strategy on a global scale.
Most of the damage to the biosphere is caused by what we call the extractive industry and primary processing of raws. Until the middle of the last century progress in these fields had been fuelled only by considerations of boosting the output with total disregard for the state of the environment. But the dwindling mineral resources and mounting ecological damage has made it necessary to develop new "resources- saving" technologies, taking into account environmental protection requirements. These include underground lixiviation, or leaching of metals and the smelting of sulphur, gazification of coals and "well extraction" of soluble salts. And that has been just the beginning.
The world consumption of mineral raws is doubled every 10 - 15 years. From the year 1900 to 2000 coal output reached 170 bin t, the output of iron ore-35 bin t, and in the last quarter of the 20th century the output of metallic ores reached 15 bin t (including tens of millions tons of ... Read more