The process of mining dates back centuries. The ultimate goal of the process was to extract valuable minerals from the surface of the Earth.
However, during the early ages, mining techniques and equipment were inefficient and resulted in reduced levels of productivity and effectiveness. Many of the techniques and methods practiced were either slow or dangerous. Yet, these were the only methods available at the time.
The history of mining technology has significantly shifted since then.
Brief History of Mining
The history of mining technology started with using simple tools for extraction.
These included digging by hand or using stone tools. While these were the only methods of mining at the time, the process was slow and highly inefficient as it took so long.
However, manual mining tools were soon replaced by a more efficient source. Fire was introduced as a new method of extraction.
Mining would be done by setting fire to a large stack of logs in front of a rock face. The aim here was to create enough heat for the rock to begin to falter and crack. This would clear a way for miners to reach great depths where they could continue to dig. This technique proved efficient as it was a quicker way of accessing resources.
A dramatic advancement in the history of mining technology came at the dawn of the middle ages. With the introduction of powerful explosives, there was no longer a need for log fires to be made.
Explosives proved to be a highly efficient way of fragmenting the rock to access resources. At this time, the product used for the explosives was black powder. However, no brief history of mining would be complete without mentioning the transition to an even more destructive source of power, dynamite.
Dynamite was introduced in the 19th century as the modern method of resource extraction. Dynamite wasn’t the only innovation of the time. During the 19th century, more advanced methods of mining were developed with the advancement of technology used to enable the motorization of mining tools. This gave way to the development of tools such as drills and steam-powered pumps.
History of Mining Equipment
The peak of pivotal change in the history of mining technology took place during the industrial revolution. The advancement of technology at this time led to a dramatic advancement in mining techniques which subsequently increased mining capabilities. The move in mining equipment transitioned from motorized drills to powerful compressed air, mine cars, and steam pumps. All of which significantly improved the efficiency of mining operations and the capacity of resources mined.
The advancement of technology was a major step in the history of mining equipment because it led to a profound increase in productivity.
Early Impact on the Environment
However, with the rapid growth and development of the mining industry, what wasn’t recognized was the effect mining was having on the environment.
The rapid extraction of resources from the earth was having a critical impact on the surrounding environment causing loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and the contamination of water and soil.
Recent Environmental Progress
Now, with more information and knowledge surrounding the effects of mining on the environment, many mining companies are now taking social responsibility to minimize their environmental impact by incorporating advanced mining technology into their operations. These technologies are designed to reduce the harm done to the environment and to employ efficient machinery to help reduce energy consumption.
Advancement of Mining Technology
Mining technology has come leaps and bounds since the industrial revolution. Rapid advancements in technology and the introduction of new innovations have significantly changed how the mining industry operates. These modern advancements include technology such as automation, digitization, and electrification. All of which work to maintain operational efficiency but with a reduced effect on the environment.
There are a few main areas that modern technologies are focusing on which will improve the environmental impact. Some major improvements revolve around:
- The introduction of autonomous vehicles
- Use of automated drilling systems
- Incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This advancement of mining technology is working not only to leave a more sustainable footprint, but also to improve levels of safety, operational efficiency, and productivity.
Implementing Advanced Mining Technology
At AMS we lead the way in the implementation of mining technology into their operations. This includes all areas from drilling and blasting to ground support. There are three areas that we are particularly proud of:
- Drilling and blasting machinery: We use machinery with advanced technology that reduces the energy consumption of the machines. During drilling and blasting these machines utilize low-velocity and low vibration blasting. This is effective in ensuring maximum levels of safety especially when it comes to sensitive areas. Implementing machinery like this for drilling and blasting ensures that there is minimal impact on land at the mining site such as the destabilizing of the ground.
- Ground support: Using precast concrete segments, structures are put in place to ensure the safety of miners in excavation as well as the advanced ground support.
- Mine rehabilitation operations: Abandoned mines can be harmful to both people and the environment. Leaving them in this state can lead to the mineral substances left behind releasing toxic chemicals into the air, significantly affecting the air quality of surrounding areas. It could also lead to erosion and the degradation of soil. At AMS we work to create and provide a superior rehabilitation plan that ensures security and structural support. The implementation of these plans results in new vegetation and soil being laid and planted to enable the land to resume its former environmental purpose.
Since the early years, mining techniques and methods have drastically changed. With the rapid advancement in mining technology, mining has significantly developed in its efficiency.
Mining with AMS
New and innovative technological solutions in the mining industry are changing the way that the mining industry interacts with the environment. At AMS, we provide mining technology services that use modern mining techniques to create solutions. This can be anything from improving ground support to creating innovative solutions to mining rehabilitation. All of which serve to reduce the impact of mining on the environment and work to reconcile the effects of mining. At AMS, we consider the effects of our operations and work to continue implementing mining technology to further improve our operations.