Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, usually (but not always) from an ore body, vein, or (coal) seam. more...
Materials recovered by mining include bauxite, coal, diamonds, iron, precious metals, lead, limestone, nickel, phosphate, rock salt, tin, and uranium. Any material that cannot be grown from agricultural processes must be mined. Mining in a wider sense can also include extraction of petroleum, natural gas, and even water.
The oldest known mine in the archaeological record is the "Lion Cave" in Swaziland. At this site, which has a radiocarbon age of 43,000 years, paleolithic humans mined for the iron-containing mineral hematite, which they ground to produce the red pigment ochre. Sites of a similar age where Neanderthals may have mined flint for weapons and tools have been found in Hungary.
Another early mining operation was the turquoise mine operated by the ancient Egyptians at Wady Maghareh on the Sinai Peninsula. Turquoise was also mined in pre-Columbian America in the Cerillos Mining District in New Mexico, where a mass of rock 200 feet (60 m) in depth and 300 feet (90 m) in width was removed with stone tools; the mine dump covers 20 acres (81,000 m²).
Black gun powder in mining was first used in a mineshaft under Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia in 1627.
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