The earth contains many mineral deposits that have to be explored. These explorations find the exact place where the mineral deposits will be found and then drill it to get to the mineral.
First it is essential to know where the mineral deposits will be found. For this, a geological study of the area should be conducted to know if mineral deposits exist in that place and also whether it can be done – easily, quickly and cheaply. Each mineral is found in a particular area. A place where gold is found might not be the place where diamonds might be found or oil might be extracted. The rock structure varies. The whole formation is different. Sometimes there may be ‘look alike’ mines which might not be mines. So you should find out exactly where a deposit is located.
A lot of geological data has to be gathered to do the actual drilling. This is done by means of instruments to find out the gravity, radioactivity and electromagnetism in that area. An effective method is the getting geophysical data by flying airborne geophysics. Airborne magnetometers help in searching for magnetic anomalies in the earth’s magnetic field. These anomalies show that magnetic minerals like magnetite are present in that place. Ultra violet lamps make certain minerals to fluoresce and this is indicative of the presence of tungsten. Gieger counters and scintillometers show the amount of radioactivity present and help in knowing the presence of uranium. Electromagnetic geophysics is used in ground based geophysical prospecting for minerals. Remote sensing by using aerial photographs also helps a great deal. Geochemical methods help in knowing the soil and the type of mineral that is found in a particular place. Certain chemical elements will show that a certain type of mineral will be available in that area.
A sample drilling is conducted in the area and resource evaluation is done to know the grade and tonnage of the mineral that is present. This will tell them know the size of the ore and how much quantity of the mineral is present. Then a reserve definition is done to know how economically viable is the project. This changes the mineral resource into an ore reserve. Various methods of geotechnical assessment and engineering studies are conducted to get these details. Mining engineers study the area and give the company the best and the most cost effective method to drill the area and get the minerals. After a decision is reached the mine is drilled.
Drilling of the mines results in sale of the minerals and hence business and profit. There are two methods of extracting minerals from mines – the Greenfields method and the Brownfields method. Greenfields method involves mining in areas that have not been explored before and so we do not know what to expect and sometimes mines might not be found. The Brownfields method involves mining in areas where there have previously been deposits. In this method, the ores might have been exhausted although the area is a known one.
The drilling rigs are machines that go through the earth’s crust and drill holes in the ground. The drilling rigs have to dig deep to get to the minerals.
The drilling of mines is usually taken up by big companies or corporations that follow a thorough and researched method to go about finding out the site of the mine. They have also to see how economically it will be profitable to dig in that particular area and how much mineral they will find in that deposit. The whole process is a complex one and each and every detail has to be attended to, to get the best results.