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MINERAL UTILIZATION

This type of mining is less disturbing to the land surface than surface mining. It also usually produces fewer waste materials. However, it is more expensive and more dangerous than surface mining methods.

A newer form of subsurface mining known as in-situ mining is designed to co-exist with other land uses, such as agriculture. An in-situ mine typically consists of a series of injection wells and recovery wells built with acid-resistant concrete and polyvinyl chloride casing. A weak acid solution is pumped into the ore body in order to dissolve the minerals. Then, the metal-rich solution is drawn up through the recovery wells for processing at a refining facility. This method is used for the in-situ mining of copper ore.

Once an ore has been mined, it must be processed to extract pure metal. Processes for extracting metal include smelting, electrowinning and heap leaching.