Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth from an ore body, lode, vein, seam, or reef, which forms the mineralized package of economic interest to the miner.
Ores recovered by mining include metals, coal and oil shale, gemstones, limestone, and dimension stone, rock salt and 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 and natural gas.
Mining of stone and metal has been done 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.
The nature of mining processes creates a potential negative impact on the environment both during the mining operations and for years after the mine is closed. This impact has led to most of the world’s nations adopting regulations to moderate the negative effects of mining operations. Safety has long been a concern as well, and modern practices have improved safety in mines significantly.