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Open-Pit Mining

  • By: Fenda Aminata Akiwumi & Philip Edward van Beynen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Open-pit mining, also called opencast, open-cut, strip mining, or quarrying, is a mechanical extraction method that dates back to over 3,000 years. Ancient mines include the Tongling copper mine of China's mid Shang Dynasty 3,300 ± 60 years ago and some potential United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage sites—Mitterberg in Austria and the Timna mine from ancient Egypt (now located in Israel). Quarrying refers to opencast mining that extracts building materials, such as granite, limestone, marble, and slate. The method extracts resources occurring close to the surface or deeper formations that are structurally unstable or too friable to make tunneling possible. Commonly mined minerals include bauxite, copper, diamonds, gold, gypsum, kaolin, lead, manganese, nickel, phosphate, and zinc. The largest resource mined is ...

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