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Hard Rock Mining for Precious Metals

Hard rock mining is an underground extraction technique used to obtain hard mineral deposits. Hard minerals are non-fuel metals or solid ores containing metals like gold, silver, uranium, and zinc.

There are three steps to hard rock mining. First is exploration, where the presence and value of hard mineral deposits is determined using geotechnical surveys and exploratory drilling. Next is extraction, where vertical shafts and horizontal tunnels are dug underground to reach the ore deposit.

Once the ore is extracted, it goes through several stages of crushing to reduce it from large boulders to pieces less than an inch in diameter. The final step is beneficiation, where the mineral is separated from the waste rock via gravity separation, flotation, or leaching.

Key fact: Unlike conventional drill and blast, which averages around five metres per day, hard rock mining systems have a faster advance rate, averaging ten metres per day

While hard rock mining is used when precious metals are located in solid rock, placer mining is used when these deposits are found in streambeds. Unlike hard rock mining, placer mining separates eroded minerals from sediment using surface mining techniques, like open-pits.

Benefits

  • Recovers precious metals

  • Faster advance rates

  • Greater productivity

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